April 22, 2024

U-20 AFCON: F’Eagles begin quest for eighth title against Senegal

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U-20 AFCON: F’Eagles begin quest for eighth title against Senegal

Nigeria will begin their quest for an eight continental title when they take on Senegal at the Cairo International Stadium in Egypt on Sunday (today), Sunday PUNCH reports.

Ladan Bosso’s side qualified for the U-20 AFCON in Egypt by virtue of emerging Champions at WAFU B U-20 regional tournament in May 2022 in Niger.

In the process of team’s qualification, Bosso’s team defeated 2021 AFCON cup holders, Ghana 2-0, Ivory Coast 2-1 in the semi-final and Benin Republic 3-1 on final day to be crowned WAFU B regional champions.

The Flying Eagles are back in the tournament with the sole mission of winning the trophy after missing the previous edition in Mauritania.

They were crowned champions seven times with the first in 1983 and the most recent in 2015 defeating host nation Senegal 1-0 in the final.

The Flying Eagles have lost only two finals in 1999 and 2007 while finishing third on three occasions in 1995, 2005, 2013 and fourth in 2019.

Head Coach Ladan Bosso remains upbeat about the readiness of his boys to sustain their winning mentality when the tournament kicks off today.

“We have been able to sustain the same mood we had in camp before going for the WAFU B U20 Championship in Niamey, which we won. Since then, we have played a series of matches and scored plenty of goals, and that is immense for a winning mentality to stay within a team.

“However, we are not going to under-rate any of our opponents. Defeating Zambia in Abuja was good for confidence but we know championship mood would be tougher. We will be ready to do the country proud.”

Our correspondent learnt that Belgium -based Ahmed Abdullahi has joined the Flying Eagles’ squad in Cairo. The KAA Gent of Belgium forward arrived in Cairo in the early hours of Friday morning. Abdullahi was part of the team that emerged WAFU B U20 Champions in Niger Republic in May last year.

The nifty forward scored one goal at the regional tournament despite injury ruling him out of the tournament after he suffered head injury during a match with Burkina Faso, and is expected to offer more attacking options upfront to Coach Ladan Bosso.

After their game on Sunday, the Flying Eagles- two-time FIFA World Cup runners-up and one-time bronze medallists, will then face hosts Egypt on Wednesday just as well as Mozambique on Saturday, at the same venue.

All four semi-finalists at the 12-team championship in Egypt will qualify to fly Africa’s flag at the FIFA U20 World Cup finals to be staged in Indonesia from May 20 to June 11 later this year.

Meanwhile, the Confederation of African Football has appointed Moroccan Jalal Jayed as referee for Sunday’s Group A game at the Cairo International Stadium.

Jayed will be assisted by Tunisian Mohamed Bakir (assistant referee 1), Algerian Hamza Bouzit (assistant referee 2) and Ivoirian Franklin Kpan.

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