Head Coach Paul Aigbogun says his Flying Eagles will take it one match at a time when the whistle goes for kick –off at the 21st Africa U20 Cup of Nations taking place in Niger Republic 2nd – 17th February.
The seven –time African champions tango with host nation Niger Republic, South Africa and Burundi in Group A of the competition, with only the two top –placed teams to progress to the semi finals and guaranteed automatic berths at this summer’s FIFA U20 World Cup finals in Poland.
“We must first plan on earning a ticket to the World Cup finals,” Aigbogun told thenff.com. “There would definitely be no margin for error in the first two matches. Once we are able to secure maximum points from the first two matches, we would have one leg at the World Cup.
“Afterwards, we would then begin to plan for the trophy. Focus and tactics must be for one match at a time. We cannot afford to falter.”
Team Administrator Aliyu Ibrahim Lawal confirmed to thenff.com on Monday that the Flying Eagles delegation will now depart for Niamey, venue of their group phase matches, on the morning of Thursday, 31st January 2019.
Burundi’s Junior Itamba, Nigeria’s first opponents in Niger Republic, are a toughened bunch having had to wade through three rounds of qualifiers to land in Niger Republic. They trounced Ethiopia 3-0 on aggregate, shot past Sudan 3-1 after both legs and then side-tracked Zambia by the same margin.
South Africa, Nigeria’s second opponents, prevailed 4-1 over Mozambique before defeating Malawi 2-0 on aggregate to make sure of a place in Niger.
Hosts Niger Republic qualified automatically but were at the WAFU U20 Tournament in Lome last month, where they battled to a scoreless draw with the Flying Eagles in a group phase encounter.
The Flying Eagles defeated Guinea Bissau 3-2 on aggregate before victimizing Mauritania 6-1 on aggregate to qualify.
All four semi finalists in Niger Republic would represent Africa at the FIFA U20 World Cup finals in Poland, scheduled for 23rd May – 15th June.
FLYING EAGLES FOR 2019 U20 AFCON
Goalkeepers: Akpan Udoh (Unattached); Olawale Oremade (Oasis FC); Detan Ogundare (Kogi United)
Defenders: Mike Zaruma (Plateau United); Ikouwem Utin (Enyimba FC); Igoh Ogbu (Rosenburg FC, Norway); Solomon Ogberahwe (El-Kanemi Warriors); Valentine Ozornwafor (Enyimba FC); Olasunkanmi Aliyu (Emmanuel Amuneke Academy)
Midfielders: Peter Eletu (Prince Kazeem Academy); Quadri Liameed (36 Lions); Aniekeme Okon (Akwa United); Jamil Muhammad (Kano Pillars); Afeez Aremu (IK Stat, Norway)
Forwards: Adamu Alhassan (Kano Pillars); Yahaya Nazifi (Sonderjyske FC, Denmark); Ibrahim Aliyu (Oasis FC); Adeshina Gata (Wikki Tourists); Ibrahim Abubakar (Plateau United); Onyekachi Paschal (Vaxjo United, Sweden); Maxwell Effiom (Enyimba FC)