The draw with Côte d’Ivoire in their WAFU B U20 Tournament opener on Sunday fell short of what is expected of Nigeria, Flying Eagles captain Mike Zaruma has said, and vowed the team will redeem their image and make amends with all three points against arch-rivals Ghana on Wednesday.
Nigeria were leading through Christopher Nwaeze’s second half goal and almost had victory wrapped up but the Baby Elephants struck late on, after Nwaeze saw red, to snatch a draw from the jaws of defeat.
An enraged Flying Eagles boss Ladan Bosso carpeted his team for their ‘loss of concentration’ and laid the blame for the late equalizer on the defence.
Zaruma agreed with his manager and described their performance on Sunday as “really bad”.
The draw means Nigeria’s chances of qualifying for the U20 AFCON hangs in the balance and with West African rivals the Black Satellites of Ghana next up in Group B, there is no margin of error left and only a win in the blockbuster tie will do.
Zaruma says the team have resolved to “make Nigeria proud,” redeem their image and get back in the good graces of their coaches by ensuring they triumph against bitter rivals Ghana.
“The match we played yesterday, it was really a bad game, I think that’s not what we are expecting from each and everyone of us as players,” Zaruma said.
“But we hope to make a difference against Ghana and we believe three points will make Nigeria proud and also will make ourselves happy and also our coaches.”
The WAFU B U20 tournament in Benin Republic serve as qualifiers for next year’s U20 Africa Cup of Nations in Mauritania, which will determine Africa’s flagbearers at the 2021 FIFA U20 World Cup in Indonesia.