|Manu Garba with Habib Makanjuola|
Chelsea’s Nigerian youngster, Habib Makanjuola, may have forced his way into the hearts of the coach Manu Garba-led Golden Eaglets’ crew after he practically bowled over the fans as the screening exercise ended at the NFF/FIFA Goal Project Centre in Abuja on Friday.
Many youngsters including Oviemuno Ejaria who is attached with Arsenal and US-based Abuchi Obinwa have been impressive during the trials but Garba reckons that players would be picked eventually based on merit, adding that Makanjuola has something to offer.
Makanjuola was at the right place at the right time as his first day on Thursday coincided with the arrival of the crew of Supersport and he was the cynosure of all eyes.
“I think the boy (Makanjuola) has some qualities and he is very comfortable with the ball, “a delighted Garba said afterwards. “ But that is not to say he’s going to walk straight into the team because we have also noticed some few areas that he would need to work upon.”
Makanjuola, a former National Under-13 player, hails from Ifon in Osun State and has reportedly won several personal awards in domestic and international competitions before his breakthrough at Chelsea.
“I’m a Nigerian boy through and through and the only country I want to play for is Nigeria,” said the 14-year-old boy. “I’m delighted to be here to show what I can do but I can see that there are also many good players here.
“But I’m determined to do the best I can to be part of the Golden Eaglets to the World Cup in the United Arab Emirates,” he affirmed.
In the meantime, Garba has described the exercise as very successful after discovery of new players that could help the cause of the team at the World Cup in UAE.
Players on the shortlist including those that represented the country at the last CAN Under-17 Championship in Morocco would converge in the Cross River State capital, Calabar for intensive preparation ahead of the trip to the UAE in October.