Enyimba of Aba defender, Ikouwem Udoh Utin has emerged the new team captain of Nigeria’s under-20 national team, Flying Eagles.
The nod from the team’s coach, Paul Aigbogun, who is also handler of Ikuowem’s club in the Nigeria Professional Football League (NPFL), is in recognition of the strides the elft-back has gained since starring for the senior B-squad at this year’s Championship of African Nations (CHAN 2018) in Morocco..
Utin shone for the home-based Eagles en route to winning bronze, after stepping up from the bench to take the place of injured Daniel Itodo following the group stage matches.
The left-back also won the Young Player of the Year Award at the maiden NFF/Aiteo Football Awards held in Lagos.
The new Flying Eagles captain will hope he and his teammates get it right in their double-header against Junior Pharaohs of Egypt on Monday at Borg El-Arab Stadium and on Wednesday.
Ahead of the games, the Flying Eagles flew into the Egyptian port city of Alexandria on Saturday after a four-and-half hour flight from Kano, and immediately settled down.
Officials of the Egyptian FA received the Nigeria delegation, who were then moved to lodge at Tulip Hotel in Alexandria.
Monday’s game at Borg El-Arab Stadium is the same arena where Egypt’s senior team defeated Congo 2-1 to in November to reach their first FIFA World Cup finals in 28 years.
Commissioned in 2007, it is an all-sitter 86,000 –capacity venue, making it the second biggest in Africa after Johannesburg’s Soccer City.
Both the Flying Eagles and Junior Pharaohs will clash again at the same venue on Wednesday evening.
The Flying Eagles are preparing to play the winner of Sierra Leone and Guinea Bissau in the second round of the 2019 Africa U20 Cup of Nations qualification series in mid-May.
On the other hand, The Junior Pharaohs already know they will be up against Senegal for a place in the final qualifying campaign.