U-23 AFCON: Okechukwu Confident Olympic Eagles Will Pip South Africa

U-23 AFCON: Okechukwu Confident Olympic Eagles Will Pip South Africa

Olympic Eagles captain Azubuike Okechukwu says the team will strive hard to win Friday’s encounter against South Africa at the 2019 Africa U-23 Cup of Nations in Egypt.
The cup holders need to beat the South Africans to secure a place in the semi-final.

Imama Amapakabo’s charges are placed second in Group B, with a point behind the South Africans, after picking up their first win against Zambia on Tuesday.

“It is a must-win for us, we know the importance of the game and we’ve been working hard in training,” Azubuike told a news conference on Thursday.

“Hopefully, tomorrow we are going to come out in our best and then make sure we win the game.”

Azubuike joined the Olympic Eagles late on Monday after Istanbul Basaksehir held him back for their games in the Turkish Super Lig.

After missing the team’s 1-0 loss to Ivory Coast, the 22-year-old played a crucial role in helping Nigeria secure a 3-1 comeback win over the Chipolopolo.

Azubuike doesn’t think his presence in Egypt spurred the country to their first win but attributed the result to the team’s effort.

“I wouldn’t say my presence did a lot because we have good players even without me, we can do something,” he added.

“I have been in this position before so I had to speak to the boys and we came out to play our best because the country expects that from us.

“Going forward, I think with or without me, everybody is important and we can win every game if we want to win and we work very hard.”

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COMMENTS

WORDPRESS: 7
  • Gents, make sure you beat south African blue and black.

     
  • Does the head-to-head rule apply here? Cos that means Cote D’Ivoire – even with an inferior goal difference – will be 2nd, and Nigeria 3rd. If that’s the case, draw games in both matches tomorrow will mean Nigeria is out of the Olympics. And that would mean a total blackout for Nigerian team football in 2020.

    The U23 boys needs to beat SA soundly – both for footballing and sentimental reason. We need to “set the record straight” on who’s boss and take some kind of revenge for comrades on the field of play.

    Not much is expected from Imama Amakapabo, but he should at least qualify the team for Tokyo. With that ticket secured, Nigeria should make a real imoression at the Games – especially given that Rohr’s main Eagles are truly young. I’m already salivating at the prospect of having these well-groomed SE “materials” (still 23 or under) playing in the Olympics next year:

    – Joe Aribo
    – Sam Chukwueze
    – Victor Osimhen
    – Chidozie Awaziem
    – Maduka Okoye
    – Francis Uzoho
    – Tyrone Ebuehi
    – Sunday Awoniyi
    – Kelechi Nwakali
    – Stephen Odey
    – Dennis Bonaventure (?)
    – Ebere Eze (Potentially)

    All of these guys are still U23. The team will look like a mini SE. And, of course, with Emmanuel Amuneke leading the team, in place of Imama Amakapabo.

     
    • A case of ‘Monkey dey work; baboon dey chop’?

      What is the fairness in one set of players doing the dirty job of playing qualifying games only for ‘superior’ players to push them out and appear in the main event?

      Injustice and unfairness is stinking and poluting the air.

       
      • @Achi, I think you missed the point. I understand your sense of injustice at such a scenario, but looking at it closely, that’s not true. No one should have a permanent shirt. Before every event, there must be a review of the current team in a new camp opening. Only the best will be selected. That you were selected for the Egypt tournament doesn’t mean you’ll automatically go to the bigger tournament if a more skilled player comes to camp. That’s the pattern – even for the last Olympics in Rio in 2016.

         
        • These players should only complement to make the team stronger, not “pushing the current ones out” as a “superior” gang. No. There are a lot of good players in the current squad as well, including Azubuike, Ozoromwafor, Sunday Faleye, Jamiu Ishaya etc. Perhaps a few (7-8) will make way.

           
    • Aleks 4 weeks ago

      @Kel, head to head rule applies in this competition. At this point, our best path to qualification is to defeat South Africa! A draw is only sufficient if Zambia defeats Cote de Ivoire.
      Regarding the present impression of some fans on Coach Imama, I’d rather make no comments at the moment. But it does appear that we have not taken time to appraise the circumstances of Imama’s teams (both the U-23 and CHAN Eagles) – the players available for selection, the time these players have had to train together, their fitness levels etc. But I guess it’s easier to blame the coach.
      I only hope that Imama and the players will seize this opportunity to redeem themselves and turn their story around.

       
  • Nicholas 4 weeks ago

    what Nigeria want is Olympic qualifications. In all National teams, not all the players that took part in qualifying matches play in the main Turnament because some experience players may be engaged during preliminary stages, but all players are important but some are more important than others and can turn the game in our favor Base on experience and tactical reasons. Why did we fail in chan qualifications, loosing home and away, our mentality must change in selection of players and coaches.