Nigeria must avoid defeat to remain in contention
It is crunch time in Egypt for Nigeria, as the Flying Eagles confront hosts, Egypt, in a game they must win to remain in contention for a second-round ticket at the ongoing African U-20 Nations Cup.
The Nigerians lost their first game against Senegal 1-0 on Sunday and must avoid any form of defeat against an Egyptian team that drew with Mozambique in their opening game.
The matchday two game at the Cairo International Stadium will start by 7.00 p.m., Egyptian time, which is 6.00 p.m. in Nigeria.
A draw will place Nigeria in a situation that ensures a win against Mozambique in their last group game could take them to the quarterfinal. That is if Senegal beat or draw with Egypt in their last game.
Against Senegal, Nigeria had the control of the first stanza, but lost to a more composed side, which knew how to lock up shop after getting the game’s only goal.
Today, Coach Isah Ladan Bosso’s side could be without midfielder Daniel Daga, who was substituted against Senegal due to injury he sustained during the encounter. According to thenff.com, the result of the scan examination, expected later yesterday, would ascertain the extent of Daga’s injury.
Looking ahead to a tough task in Cairo, Flying Eagles’ right back, Augustine Njoku, said his mates are ready to battle the hosts to submission for the three points.
According to totorinews.com, Njoku, at the pre-match press conference yesterday, described Sunday’s loss to Senegal as a setback, which they intend to correct today.
“We are not under pressure as we play Egypt, the host nation. Qatar was the host nation of the 2022 World Cup and the team did not make it from the first round,” Njoku said.
“We just have to show the right character and attitude that will make us win Egypt. We want to play very well and correct the error that happened in the game against Senegal.”
Aware that a defeat would halt their ambition of qualifying for the FIFA U-20 World Cup billed for Indonesia, NJoku said: “Our target is to pick the world cup ticket here in Egypt and if possible win the tournament. I want to appeal to Nigerians to keep on praying for the team.
“We are very hopeful of getting back on track with a good result against Egypt.”
Also aware that Egypt need at least a draw to survive the group stage, Egypt boss, Mahmoud Gaber, says the hosts are ready and motivated to face Nigeria in the penultimate match in Group A.
Egypt dominated large parts of their match against Mozambique at the Cairo International Stadium, but failed to deliver in front of their home fans in the capital.
“We started working right after the Mozambique game,” Gaber said, adding, “everyone is ready and we’re very motivated to win.”
The Young Pharaohs were a delight to watch with their neat interchange of passes and marauding fullbacks joining in the attack against Mozambique, but Gaber hints at some possible changes.
“It is possible that we will change the way we play against Nigeria. We watched the Nigeria-Senegal match and we prepared well for the match,” the former Ismaily coach told cafonline.com.
“We suffered from a low defensive block against Mozambique, and we will not suffer from this against Nigeria due to the different way of playing.”
Arab Contractors defender Omar Fayed says the Pharaohs were not lucky against Mozambique, but stressed his teammates are not afraid of facing any team in the tournament.
“We respect all the teams, but we are not afraid to play against any team,” the young defender said. “Our goal is to get the three points and we will fight for the win,” he added.