18th October, 2013
Four Scandinavian referees including three from Norway and the other from Denmark would oversee Golden Eaglets’ first match at the 2013 UAE FIFA U-17 World Cup to be played at the Khalifa Bin Zayed Stadium on Saturday at 17:00 hours local time, 2:00pm in Nigeria.
No-nonsense Norwegian referee, Svein Oddvar Moen who sent off Mario Balotelli in a World Cup qualifying game between Czech Republic and Italy on 7 June, 2013 will be in charge at the centre.
The 34-year-old Moen became an international referee in 2005; and he officiated at the 2011 FIFA U-17 World Cup hosted and won by Mexico.
He has equally officiated at the top level of European football including the UEFA Champions League quarter final first leg between Real Madrid and Galatasaray at the Santiago Bernabeu Stadium last year.
His compatriots Kim Haglund and Frank Andes would serve as Assistant referee 1 and 2 respectively and the cast is completed with Danish Ken Hansen who is the Fourth Official. Match Commissioner is Mr Campbell Ogilvie who is the President of the Scottish Football Association.
Meanwhile; Golden Eagles have vowed to put up an imperious performance as they spot on the white Nigerian strips against Mexico on Saturday.
Nigeria are designated Team B by FIFA and would wear their mandatory white shirts for the first time in a competitive match.
The Golden Eaglets wore the more famous green jerseys throughout their qualifying campaign for the Africa U–17 championship and at the tournament’s proper in Morocco. The first and only time they put on the white jerseys dated back to 9 December, 2012 when they beat an Akwa-Ibom selected side 6-1 at the Uyo Township Stadium with a brace from Isaac Success Isaac,Bernard Bulbwa and a goal each from Kelechi Iheanacho and Chidera Ezeh.
“We are comfortable in any of the national team’s colours whether it is green or white,” said Ezeh,who was at the official Press Conference ahead of the match.
While Nigeria wiil wear the white gears complete with green socks, Mexico would be wearing black jerseys with red socks. Nigeria’s goalkeeper would be in red outfit with white stockings while his opposing Mexican would wear yellow wit-h black stockings.
Meanwhile, influential Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi emirate, His Highness, Sheik Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, is one of the Very-Very Important Personalities (VVIP) expected at Saturday’s opening match between
Nigeria and Mexico, even with words rife that FIFA President, Mr. Joseph Sepp Blatter might also be in attendance.
The Local Organising Committee, LOC which is in Al-Ain in the heart of the Abu Dhabi has enjoyed huge patronage of the Crown Prince and it was learnt he has agreed to grace the occasion.
“We are not actually planning an opening ceremony here per see but I’m sure the Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi would be with us,” said a highly-placed source at the LOC. “In fact, we are hoping that FIFA President would also be at Al Ain for this important match between Nigeria and Mexico.”
In the official countdown to the match involving Mexico and Nigeria, it is confirmed that “there is a possibility of the FIFA President and his guests to meet the teams” which is an indication that the match may turned out to be ‘final before final’ as suggested by Golden Eaglets coach Manu Garba at the official press conference on Thursday. In a related development, the Venue Manager at Al Ain, Mr. Ahmed Woldghamail has enthused that his joy would knew no bound if
Nigeria go all the way at this tournament. “It is my wish that a team from this group should go all the way but I
would be very pleased if it is Nigeria because this is my adopted team beside the UAE,” he said. “I’m a Nigerian at heart because I have been going back and forth to Nigeria since the 1990s.”