Head Coach Paul Aigbogun has declared the readiness of his Nigeria U20 squad to give their very best in all group phase matches at the Africa U20 Cup of Nations in Niger Republic, in order to qualify to represent Africa at the FIFA U20 World Cup slated for Poland mid-year.
“It is a tournament we are going to approach with all seriousness. This team has a huge burden on it because of the previous performances of Nigeria at U20 level. Nigeria has won the competition seven times and anything less than coming home with the trophy would always be seen as failure.
“Playing in the WAFU Cup tournament in Togo gave my players sneak preview of what things would look like in Niger Republic, and we learnt a lot from the defeat to Senegal in the final match.”
Nigeria play host nation Niger Republic, South Africa and Burundi in Group A of the U20 AFCON, with venue based in Niamey. But the Flying Eagles have an interesting tune –up game against their Saudi Arabian counterparts in Jeddah on Tuesday next week.
That encounter comes on 25 days short of 30 years to the day the Flying Eagles edged their Saudi Arabian counterparts 2-1 in the opening match of the 1989 FIFA World Youth Championship (now FIFA U20 World Cup) at the King Fahd International Stadium in Riyadh.
At the eight –team U20 AFCON taking place in Niger Republic, 2nd – 17th February, all four semi finalists will qualify to fly Africa’s flag at the FIFA U20 World Cup in Poland, set for 23rd May – 15th June.
Poland, which co-hosted the 2012 European Championship with Ukraine, will host the 24 –nation finals in the cities of Lublin, Bielsko Biala, Tychy, Bydgoszcz, Gdynia and Lodz. The Draw Ceremony has already been set for 24th February at the Gdynia Sports Arena in the city of Gdynia.