Nigeria’s U-23 Eagles coach Imama Amapakabo says his boys are ready to face a tough Sudanese side in the 2019 U-23 AFCON qualifying fixtures – the final hurdles his charges must cross to secure a berth in the competition that will also serve as the African qualifiers for the men’s football event of 2020 Olympic Games.
“(Sudan) – its the last match and you don’t expect a stroll in the park. Everyone wants to be at the (U23) Nations Cup, and of course, that means it isn’t going to be easy,” Amakapabo said..
The match comes up on September 5 in Khartoum, Sudan, with the reverse fixture billed for Nigeria on September 11 after CAF pushed back the earlier June 3–11 date because of of its closeness to the 2019 African Cup of Nations in Egypt.
The CAF U-23 Nations Cup finals comes up in Egypt from 8 to 22 November 2019.
Amapakabo’s Dream Team V11 saw off Libya 4-2 on aggregate to reach this stage.
In 2016, Sudan eliminated Flying Eagles from the race to the FIFA U-20 World Cup.
That shock defeat is still reverberating in the mind of the former junior international goalkeeper.
“At this stage, you don’t take anything for granted, not even Sudan,” Amapakabo added.
“We all saw how they (Sudan) stopped Flying Eagles in 2016 which is reason we should not take them for granted.”
Nigeria’s team is largely made up of foreign based players.
The former Enugu Rangers coach reveals some technical dossiers on the North Africans.
“They are not as slippery as the Libyans. At least we have a clear picture of who we are facing. We know they are physical,” Amapakabo remarked.
Eight teams will qualify for the U-23 AFCON from where African representatives for the men’s football event of 2020 Olympic Games in Tokyo, Japan, will emerge.
2019 U-23 AFCON Qualifying Matches:
South Africa Vs Zimbabwe
Sudan Vs Nigeria
Zambia Vs Congo
Ghana Vs Algeria
Cameroon Vs Tunisia
Ivory Coast Vs Guinea
Morocco Vs Mali