About a week after the closure of the 30th edition of the Orange Africa Cup Nations where the Elephants won their second title, a celebration of Africa's rising talents in anticipated rousing encounters await the continent as the CAF U-17 Niger 2013 championship gets underway in Niamey on Sunday with the hosts taking on holders and FIFA World Cup record winners Nigeria and debutants Zambia in action against Guinea in Group A.
Group B will be in action on Monday 16 February and opens with South Africa's Amajimbos taking on the defending champions, Cote d'Ivoire's Baby Elephants while Mali and Cameroon square off in the secong of a Municipal stadium double-header.
The AFCON2015, hosted by Equatorial Guinea served some exciting fixtures, memorable goals and statistics and when the continental juniors kick-off at the Seyni Kountche Stadium in Niamey, nothing short of exciting budding talents mesmerizing crowds is awaited.
Football followers can expect the youngsters to serve thrilling encounters with the spills and thrills of this junior spectacle set to thrust Niger onto the international football limelight as the tournament also serves as qualifiers for the FIFA U-17 finals to be hosted by Chile later this year.
The Golden Eaglets are the most successful team in the world at this level, having won the FIFA U-17 championship four times and the African championship twice.
Against the hosts who are making a maiden appearance, the Super Eaglets will be hot favourites but the Junior Mena fancy their chances and are in buoyant mood.
While Nigeria will be attempting to soar to a record third African title, holders Côte d'Ivoire will want to defend their title and follow in the foot-steps of their seniors in claiming a second title. The holders start their campaign on the second day of action against a determined South African side. All but Zambia and Niger have been to the final tournament before. But both the Junior Chipolopolo and Junior Mena reckon that their chances are as good as any of the competing sides and will be out to prove their worth and push for the semi-finals which come with the prize of a FIFA World Cup place.
The young players are fully aware that stardom and excellent performances at these championships would not only bring them African junior glory but lay the foundation for potentially long and brilliant international careers. The world will be watching as Africa's newest stars lay down their first markers of success.
Competing Teams: Niger, Nigeria, Zambia, Guinea, Cote d'Ivoire, South Africa, Mali, Cameroon
Host City: Niamey
Venues: Stade Seyni Kountche and Stade Municipal
Opening Ceremony and Final: Stade Seyni Kountche
Group A - Stade Seyni Kountche
15:00 Niger vs Nigeria
18:00 Zambia vs Guinea
Group B – Stade Municipal
15:00 Cote d'Ivoire vs South Africa
18:00 Mali vs Cameroon