Nigeria’s youth national team, Flying Eagles must improve their efforts in attack and be on their toes in defence for all 90 minutes, if they are to carry the day against Mali in the semi-finals of the 2019 Africa U-20 Cup of Nations in Niger Republic.
This is the down-to-earth verdict of Super Eagles coach, Gernot Rohr, who is in Niamey to watch Wednesday’s game, ahead of which he admonished the Flying Eagles not to underrate their Malian opponets.
Casting a closer look at Nigeria’s chances in the crunch encounter at Stade Général Seyni Kountché, Niamey (kick-ff at 4:30pm), Rohr said the Flying Eagles will be up against a very formidable opponent.
It is a replay of the WAFU U-20 Cup of Nations semi-final, which Nigeria won 1-0 in Lome, Togo last December, but Rohr fears it could be a different story this time out, as says the Flying Eagles’ attack is blunt.
Indeed, Paul Osahon Aigbogun’s side have scored only three goals in three matches, with a 2-0 over Burundi in their opening game, goalless with South Africa and a 1-0 victory versus Niger Republic, such that Rohr may not be wrong to believe defence is Aigbogun’s strongest forte.
Aigbogun’s side displayed great defensive solidity in their three matches so far, as they did not concede against Burundi, South Africa and Niger, but Rohr stressed that the defenders cannot afford any laxity in midweek.
He, however, reckoned that Aigbogun’s side will qualify for the final if they score first against the Malians.
Rohr stated: ”Now the semi-finals are decided after one game. We know it is a Cup game so these are special matches.
“This match between Nigerians and Malians seems very open. Both teams have shown great things since the beginning of the tournament.
”It is important in this game to score the first goal and to have a good defense which Nigeria has.
”I saw both play their last match in Niamey. Mali also made a good impression. Nigeria lacks a bit of offensive strength.
“Mali earned a deserved victory in its match against Ghana so we can just say that it’s going to be a good match and very tight especially.”