Nigeria’s Flying Eagles are going for broke in their final group game against tournament host, the Niger Republic.
The group is deciding to risk everything in an all-out effort after failing to get the desired result in their last outing against South Africa at the ongoing U-20 Africa Cup of Nations.
The head coach for the Nigeria U-20 team, Paul Aigbogun, has given his words that his squad will go for nothing less than an outright victory when they confront the Niger Republic on Friday.
Aigbogun, alongside assistants Abdu Maikaba, Hassan Abdallah and Suleiman Shuaibu, took the seven-time African champions through their last training session before the game on Thursday evening, at the National Technical Centre, Niamey, and told thenff.com that focus would be on scoring the goals that would earn Nigeria a FIFA U20 World Cup ticket.
“This is our most important match of the tournament so far. There would be no looking back. We are playing the host team but our minds are made up to go all out. Only a win can guarantee us a place in Poland.
“Of course, we noticed a few things in the first two matches we played. The corrections we have made would help us greatly in Friday’s match.”
The Flying Eagles have to be at their very best against a home team that requires an outright victory as well, to be in with a chance of qualification, as they trail Nigeria by two points and are level with South Africa.
Needing the minimum win possible to snatch a World Cup ticket early when they took on South Africa on Tuesday, Aigbogun’s wards made hard work of it, with the match ending 0-0, rather handing the Amajita a chance to remain in the tournament if they overpower Burundi in Maradi also on Friday.
It is understood that goalkeeper Olawale Oremade is likely to keep his place between the sticks, as defenders Mike Zaruma, Ikouwem Utin, Igoh Ogbu, and Valentine Ozornwafor.
Their alliance is still unbreached in the championship.
Jamil Muhammad and Afeez Aremu could remain in the midfield with Alhassan Adamu in front of them, though Aigbogun may tinker with the strike force, with Ibrahim Abubakar, Aliyu Ibrahim, Nazifi Yahaya, Effiom Maxwell, Adeshina Gata and Sweden –based Onyekachi Paschal all in good shape.
Group A is delicately poised and goes to the wire. With four points, Nigeria tops the pool ahead of Niger and South Africa, with two points each, while Burundi has only one point.
A draw against the Junior Mena would see the Flying Eagles through to the semi-finals and a spot at the FIFA U20 World Cup in the pocket, and in this case victory for South Africa over Burundi would also see the Amajita through. Yet, a victory for the host nation over Nigeria, and victory for South Africa against Burundi would eliminate the seven-time champions.
Also, if Burundi secures a high-margin win over South Africa, and the Junior Mena overpower the Flying Eagles, Niger Republic, and Burundi would go through to the last four and to Poland.
The final games in Group A will kickoff by 4.30 pm.