U23 AFCON: Olympic Eagles in must-win tie against Sudan

Olympic Eagles
Olympic Eagles. [PHOTO CREDIT: Channels TV]

The Nigeria U-23 team, the Olympic Eagles, have their back against the wall in their quest to qualify for the U23 Africa Cup of Nations holding in Egypt in November.

The Coach Imama Amapakabo-led team have all to play for as they take to the pitch at the Stephen Keshi Stadium, Asaba on Tuesday, trailing Sudan by a lone goal.

A goal seconds to the end of the first half in Omdurman on Thursday left the Eagles nursing a deficit. Coach Amapakabo has said there would be no pulling punches from kick-off on Tuesday.

“We were unlucky to lose the first leg game, but there is no need crying over spilt milk. Tuesday is here and the battle must be won. We are the defending champions and we must be in Egypt to defend our title,” the coach said.

The Olympic Eagles have been training in Asaba since arriving in the Delta State capital on Sunday. They have been strengthened by the arrival of former FIFA U17 World Cup-winning captain Kelechi Nwakali.

Nwakali will string things in midfield with captain Azubuike Okechukwu, with Blessing Muyiwa, Sunusi Ibrahim, Stephen Odey and Taiwo Awoniyi expected to do a better job of converting opportunities this time.

Goalkeeper Adamu Abubakar pulled a number of huge saves in Omdurman, and is expected to start, with former U17 World Cup winner John Lazarus and Ebube Duru at wing-back.

As they file onto the pitch, Amapakabo’s charges will recall that it was on the same turf they hit Libya by four goals to nothing in the earlier round, after a two-goal reverse in Tunisia.

The Confederation of African Football has appointed Guinean official Bangaly Konate as referee for the match.

He is to be assisted by his compatriots Mamady Tere (assistant referee 1), Abdoulaye Sylla (assistant referee 2) and Tawel Younoussa Camara (fourth official).

Luleseged Begashaw Asfaw from Ethiopia will be the match commissioner.


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