Team captains have a special responsibility to lead by example ahead of a big game. FIFA.com caught up with Nigerian skipper Musa Muhammed and Mexico’s captain Ulises Rivas ahead of the final of the FIFA U-17 World Cup in UAE on Friday. We posed five questions to the team leaders about what they expect in from the game – a rematch of the group stage contest that ended 6-1 for the Africans – their dreams of becoming world beaters, and who they’ll go to first when the final whistle blows.
FIFA.com: What kind of game do you expect in the final?
Nigeria captain Musa Muhammed: The first game that we played against Mexico is over now. It’s in the past, so we’re focusing on the next one. It will be a hard game, because it’s a final and both sides have a lot to play for. We are sure to be totally focused before we kick off.
Mexico captain Ulises Rivas: It’s a different match from the first one, for sure. It will be a tough game for us, so we’ll have to be ready. It’s a World Cup final and this is a stage where you have to be at your best.
Has your team gotten better over the course of the tournament?
MM: Yes. Absolutely. We tried to get better with every game because this is a special tournament for Nigeria and for Nigerians. We’re just completely happy to be playing for a fourth U-17 World Cup title here in UAE.
UR: Obviously we started badly, so there was nowhere to go but up for us. The last games were difficult ones, but they’ve made us stronger and more together in the team and they’ve prepared us for the final.
What is the main strength of your team at this moment?
MM: We have a lot of players who can hurt you; there’s not just one guy who’s above the other guys. Everybody puts the job on his shoulders because football is about 11 players, not one or two. Everyone in this team gives his all for the cause, for his team and his country.
UR: Our main strength is our unity and our willingness to move the ball around. When we play together as one we become better than we are as individual players.
What would it mean for you to become a world champion here in UAE?
MM: It’s hard to describe. It would be something so good for me, for my life and my family, so I just hope that we can do it on the day and go home as champions of the world.
UR: This would be a tremendous sensation for us. Everyone in the team is hoping for this, and it would be like a dream come true.
Who is the first person you will call after the final?
MM [Pause] I will, actually, call my teammates over to me because we are working so hard together for so long. I want to share the moment with them no matter what happens. We are all together as a team and I want to share the moment with all of my mates.
UR: I will go to my family. They’re here in UAE and I will run to hug them. They will be the first ones I look to.