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Ogbeta targets goals in crucial mini-derby

LEADER: Nathanael Ogbeta in U18 action.

LEADER: Nathanael Ogbeta in U18 action.

Ahead of a Manchester derby that could end City’s U18 Premier League title aspirations, Nathanael Ogbeta could not be more relaxed.

That comes from confidence in his team’s ability and he pinpoints four areas where he feels Gareth Taylor’s Academy side have the edge over their Manchester United counterparts.

Goals, togetherness, physical strength and skill.

The young Blues will need all that and more if they’re to overturn the 12-point deficit between themselves and the table-topping Reds.

City have four games to do so and need United to not only lose the derby, but also their final game against Liverpool.

There’s also an 11 goal difference to make up, so on the surface it’s very much advantage United, but Ogbeta is adamant the title race is far from over and he has no concerns his team-mates will be overawed by the occasion.

“No one’s feeling the pressure,” he declared. “Everyone’s just excited.

“It’s the best situation because there is something at stake and because of that everyone is pumped up and can’t wait. 

“No one’s afraid. We have goals, togetherness, physical strength, skill and we know that if we play to our maximum we can win the game.”

City emerged 4-1 victors at the City Football Academy in November, a game the young defender missed due to one of three injuries he’s sustained this season.

He was watching, though and admits the score line did not reflect what was a close fought encounter, which is why he’s respectful of the threat posed by our cross-city rivals.

Ogbeta is also acutely aware that City need to not only win, but win well if they’re to maintain their title aspirations.

“I expect them to play as they have been – they’ve been smashing teams,” explains the Salford native.

“But, if we play all guns blazing, we’ll have a great chance of hurting them and winning the game.

“If we get an early goal they won’t be used to that. They might struggle to come back and every goal we score counts for double now because the more we can knock that goal difference down, the more chance we have of winning the title.

“Even though it’s in United’s hands, we’re not giving it up because everyone knows that with our quality, if we keep believing then we’ve got a real chance.”

STRIKE: Colin Rosler celebrates scoring against Manchester United U18s.

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City 4-1 United: U18s highlights

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It’s stirring stuff from the 16-year-old, who was named captain of Taylor’s side at the start of the season, but his belief in his team is most certainly genuine.

Having returned to the squad in recent weeks, Ogbeta and City U18s have enjoyed something of a resurgence, posting 5-0 and 6-1 wins over Blackburn Rovers and Everton to end a five game winless run.

Those high scoring victories could prove to be vital and it’s the young Blues potency in attack which keeps the skipper believing City could yet lift the U18 title.

“Our strikers…they’re massive for us,” he added.

Keke Simmonds is a fantastic player who thrives off goals.

“He scored two against Everton in October and since then he’s been on fire. When he gets a goal, everything changes and he’s on top form at the moment.

“But Keke, Nabil (Touaizi) and Henri (Ogunby), when they're confident, they’re unstoppable.”

Match Report

Nmecha hits hat-trick for five star U18s

HAT-TRICK HERO: Felix Nmecha hit a treble against Blackburn Rovers.

Felix Nmecha scored a hat-trick as Manchester City U18s' unbeaten run stretched to three games with a 5-0 win at bottom of the league Blackburn Rovers.

It was a clinical attacking display from Gareth Taylor’s youngsters, with the in-form Keke Simmonds and Nabil Touaizi also on the scoresheet.

Academy News

Taylor: Everton win can kick-start U18s' season

Academy News

Simmonds targets season finale flourish

HAT-TRICK HERO: Keke Simmonds bagged three in the 6-1 triumph over Everton

Keke Simmonds has urged City to build on the superb 6-1 triumph over Everton, to finish the Under-18s league season in the highest possible position.

The forward netted a hat-trick in the stunning victory over the Toffees, alongside a Henri Ogunby brace and a Nabil Touaizi strike, as the young Blues ran riot in the second half.