Nigeria U23 striker Taiwo Awoniyi believes scoring the first goal will be crucial in the Olympic Eagles bid to defeat Sudan in the return leg of the 2019 U23 AFCON qualifiers later today at the Stephen Okechukwu Stadium.
The Nigeria U-23 team who are defending champions lost 1-0 to Sudan in Omdurman in the first leg of the encounter last Thursday.
And while the on-loan Mainz of Germany striker says the Imama Amapakabo led team’s chances of victory will be greatly boosted by scoring first, he also added that a Sudan lead would not be fatal to Nigeria’s chances of sealing progress to the 2019 U23 AFCON which comes up in Egypt later in the year.
“Our goal is to try to fight to the end and to get the first goal and when the first one comes I believe the team is going to do well in getting the second goal,” the 22-year old said.
“And at the same time, if they score us, it doesn’t mean the game is over, we have to keep on playing as a team and fight for the colours which I believe that by God’s grace we will come out victorious at the end of the day.”
The Olympic Eagles were able to overcome a 2-0 deficit to win 4-2 against Libya in the previous round but Awoniyi who is on loan to Mainz from European Champions Liverpool envisages a tighter affair against Sudan and says Nigeria must be patient against a team who he believes will look to lock shop and play on the counter.
“They scored the first goal in the fortieth minute in Sudan and they were able to block their goalpost till the end of the game and I believe this will be more of their tactical plan for them to wait for the counterattack against us.
“But we just have to keep our heads together as a team, we just have to be patient in front of goal and to play as a team together and to wait for the first goal and once the first goal gets in, they will also come outside and we will have better chances as a team.”
Nigeria will advance to the 3rd Africa U-23 Cup of Nations holding in Egypt from 8th to 22nd November if they eliminate Sudan.