Istanbul Basaksehir midfielder Okechukwu Azubuike and Mainz striker Taiwo Awoniyi have joined Nigeria at the Africa U-23 Cup of Nations, ahead of their game against Zambia.
The Olympic Eagles will battle the East African country in their second group match at the Al Salam Stadium on Tuesday, after suffering a 1-0 loss to Ivory Coast in the Group B opener.
Azubuike and Awoniyi were released late by their clubs due to involvement in the Turkish Super Lig and German Bundesliga, respectively.
Their arrival excited Amapakabo, who is aiming to go all out against Zambia to revive Nigeria’s hopes of qualifying for the semi-finals of the tournament and boost their chances of making it to Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games.
“I am happy we now have Awoniyi and our captain, Azubuike. They are integral to the team and were influential in our qualifying matches,” Amapakabo said.
“We will throw everything into the game against Zambia because we have left ourselves no choice at this point.
“I believe we have the team to not only overcome Zambia but go all the way in the tournament.
“We stumbled against the Ivorians but we have learnt from that and we now look forward to rescuing our campaign against the Zambians and South Africans.”
Zambia, on their part, have also received two boosts with the imminent arrival of KV Oostende forward Fashion Sakala and RB Salzburg’s Patson Daka, who has set the Austrian Bundesliga alight with 12 goals in 13 matches this season.