Africa U-23 Championship: Nigeria, Algeria set for supremacy battle

The Nigeria U-23 team and its Algerian counterpart will be locked in a supremacy battle on Saturday night as both teams aim for the top prize at the 2015 African U-23 Cup of Nations.

Having both qualified for the Men’s football event of the 2016 Rio Olympics, the two finalists will be out to put the icing on the cake on their campaign at the Senegal tournament.

Interestingly, both Nigeria and Algeria have had a go at each other during the group phase and the then final group clash ended in a barren stalemate which was enough for both teams to proceed into the semi finals.

Now to the present, it is expected that the complexion of Saturday’s game will be largely different; at least a winner must emerge even if it means going into penalty shootouts.

Speaking ahead of the final contest, Pierre-Andre Schurman, the Head Coach for the Algeria U-23 team, said the major mission of qualifying for the Olympics has been achieved but that that would not mean they would not give the African title a shot.

“Our mission was to qualify for the Olympic Games and it is done. I congratulate my players and staff on that. Our qualification is historic in the sense that it has been 35-years since Algeria last qualified for the Olympic Games,” the coach said.

He continued: The final will never be the same (like the meeting at the group phase). It is a different game and we will have a different philosophy because it is an important game for the two coaches.

“We will focus on our strategy. Every coach would like to go offensive but the basic is defence. When you are building a house, you need a strong foundation to support it.

“The difference will be the goals scored and once you have an opportunity, you have to score,” coach Schurman concluded.

For Nigeria Coach Samson Siasia, the Dream Team VI has also decided to up their target from just qualifying for the Olympics to emerging champions of Africa at this level.

“We’re very happy to be in the final. It has been a long journey with some ups and downs but it feels good to be in the final. We know our opponents (Algeria) very well after playing them (at the group phase) and seeing their matches,” Siasia began.

The Nigeria Coach added: “The objective was to qualify for the Olympics which we achieved against Senegal. Now, we’ve set another objective, which is to win because we want to win the tournament for our people back home in Nigeria.

“The players worked hard to get to Rio de Janeiro because they want to make the country proud. It doesn’t matter whether they have received match bonuses or not, what is important is to play and win for Nigeria.

On the prospects of giving youngster Victor Osimhen a big role in the final, Siasia replied: “Victor Osimhen had a good outing against Senegal which is giving me problems ahead of the final. I think he will play but I cannot confirm if he will start.”

The Nigeria Vs Algeria clash comes up at the Leopold Sedar Senghor Stadium, Dakar, by 8pm local time and PREMIUM TIMES, as always, will serve you live updates on the match.



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