The Olympic Eagles will begin the defence of the title they won four years ago in Senegal when they face Cote d’l voire today (Saturday) in their opening Group B game of the 2019 Africa U-23 Cup of Nations at the Al Salam Stadium, Cairo, reports Completesports.com.
The Eagles will be without captain Azubuike Okechukwu and Taiwo Awoniyi who are yet to link up with their teammates in camp.
Former FIFA U17 World Cup –winning captain Kelechi Nwakali will be stand-in captain and will be expected to supply the ammunition from the midfield for the strikers, including his former U17 teammate Orji Okonkwo, to make hay at the fore.
The Nigeria team is brimming with hard workers, such as defenders Valentine Ozornwafor, Olisah Ndah, Sincere Seth and Anthony Izuchukwu, and midfielders Sunusi Ibrahim, Muyiwa Olabiran, Ndifreke Effiong.
England –based Tom Dele-Bashiru, who starred for the Nigeria U20 team at the FIFA U20 World Cup in Poland this year summer, will be expected to provide some top competition experience and steel in the middle.
The Nigeria U23 contingent spent six days in Ismailia fine-tuning preparations for the finals before arriving in Cairo on Wednesday, where they are staying at the Novotel Hotel and Resorts.
The Eagles will also face Zambia and South Africa in the group.
Hosts Egypt defeated Mali 1-0 in the competition’s opening game, while Ghana and Cameroon battled to a 1-1 draw.
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