Olympic Eagles In Must Win U23 AFCON Qualifier

Cup holders Nigeria has all to play for to earn a slot in the finals of the U23 Africa Cup of Nations holding in Egypt in November, as they take 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 Olympic Eagles nursing a deficit, and Head Coach Imama Amapakabo has said there would be no pulling punches from kickoff 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 Olympic Eagles have been training in Asaba since arriving in the Delta State capital on Sunday, and 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 putting away 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, to be assisted by his compatriots Mamady Tere (assistant referee 1), Abdoulaye Sylla (assistant referee 2) and Tawel Younoussa Camara (fourth official). Mr Luleseged Begashaw Asfaw from Ethiopia will be the match commissioner.