Olympic Eagles captain Azubuike Okechukwu believes that Nigeria’s current U23 national team is more talented than the team he captained to the trophy at the 2015 U23 AFCON in Senegal.
Then 18-years old, Okechukwu was handed the armband by former coach Samson Siasia and was pivotal in Nigeria’s unbeaten run to the title.
He has again reprised his role as captain of the U23 Olympic Eagles and comparing both sides, the Istanbul Basaksehir midfielder said the present crop who lost 1-0 away to Sudan in the qualifiers and are in danger of missing out of the 2019 U23 AFCON in Egypt are a more talented side than the 2015 set.
“In the old team we didn’t have this type of talent but we had this enthusiasm, we wanted to fight to win every game but this bunch also, we have a lot of talent and with time we will see what this team can do but I think this is a better team,” the 22-year old told newsmen at the team’s Asaba base on Monday.
They, however, will have to prove their worth when they take on Sudan later today in the return leg of the 2019 U23 AFCON qualifiers at the Stephen Keshi Stadium in Asaba.
And although the Olympic Eagles overturned a 2-0 away deficit to Libya at the same venue in the previous round, Okechukwu believes Sudan’s defence will be much harder to breach especially if they score the first goal.
He, however, maintains that the defending champions are well prepared to beat Sudan and secure passage to the U23 AFCON in Egypt.
“I think the team is prepared, we are working on scoring goals which I think by God’s grace that we are going to score, so we are prepared.
“1-0 is very difficult, they will come and try to defend and if they get a goal, then it will be difficult for us.
“But for me, 1-0 is even more difficult than even the 2-0, but we are going to try to keep our balance and score our goals and make sure we qualify.”