The Nigeria Under-20 team, the Flying Eagles, are set to compete in the Africa Youth Championships, AYC, which starts Sunday, March 8 in Senegal.
Eight teams, divided into two equal groups, are in contention and Nigeria will be looking to reassert themselves as a dominant force in this cadre of football in Africa having been dethroned at the last edition in Algeria.
Made up largely of the 2013 FIFA U-17 winning side, the Flying Eagles are to start their campaign on Sunday against tournament hosts, Senegal, even as they hope to emerge champions in two weeks, when the championship ends.
Coach of the Nigeria Under-20 team, Manu Garba, has been vocal about his target in Senegal as he said before departing the country that he would be more than happy to lead Nigeria win her seventh title in the biennial championships.
Coach Manu is keen to start on the right note with the opening game against Senegal on Sunday.
“We want to win convincingly because in any tournament your opening match is very crucial. It will boost your confidence,” said Manu.
“With the U17s (2013 CAF U17 Championship), we started very well by beating Ghana 6-1 before we went all the way to the final.
“We also trounced Mexico 5-1 in our opening match at the 2013 FIFA U17 World Cup and then went on to win the tournament.
“This is how we wish to start the competition in Senegal, even though we respect and do not underrate our opponents, who will be playing at home in front of their fans.”
With the U-17 team, the Golden Eaglets, failing to sparkle at the last African tournament in Niger Republic, the Nigeria Football Federation have enjoined the Flying Eagles to bring back the smiles on the faces of expectant Nigerian football fans.
NFF Deputy Secretary General, Emmanuel Ikpeme, told the Flying Eagles that the entire country is looking up to them to win the continent’s U-20 championship in Senegal and the team have assured they will not disappoint.
Speaking to PREMIUM TIMES on his own expectations, a former Nigeria football star, Emmanuel Babayaro said he has absolute believe in the Flying Eagles going all the way as he reckons with the quality players in the team.
“For me, the Flying Eagles team is the best Nigeria national side presently, I have no doubt that they will do well in Senegal. I watched them at the last Super Four tournament and I was highly impressed with what I saw,” the former footballer, who has now delved into showbiz, stated.
Flying Eagles Group Matches
Senegal Vs Nigeria Sunday March 8
Congo Vs Nigeria March 11
Ivory Coast Vs Nigeria March 14
Flying Eagles final AYC squad
Goalkeepers: Joshua Enaholo, Sunday Alampasu, Olorunleke Ojo
Defenders: Musa Muhamed, Zaharadeen Bello, Izu Omego, Mustapha Abdullahi, Samuel Okon, Abdulganiyu Saheed
Midfielders:Ifeanyi Matthew, Ifeanyi Ifeanyi, Akinjide Idowu, Obinna Nwobodo, Bernard Bulbwa, Abdullahi Alfa
Strikers: Taiwo Awoniyi, Christian Pyagbara, Abdullahi Ibrahim Alhassan ‘Muazam’, Usman Hassan, Chidera Ezeh, Wasiu Jimoh