Nigeria’s under-23 national team, Olympic Eagles are billed to fly out of Abuja early next week, as they go for their date against Sudan in the first leg of their African championship qualifier on Thursday, in an encounter that will be followed by the reverse fixture in Asaba on September 10th.
Both sides are billed to clash in the third round of African U23 Cup of Nations qualifiers, ahead of which Olympic Eagles’ head coach, Imama Amapakabo says he is putting finishing touches to plans for the first leg.
Amapakabo’s side stepped up their preparations for the championship, which will hold in Egypt from November 8th to 22nd, by defeating Falala FC of Abuja 2-0 in a build-up friendly played at FCT’s FIFA Goal Project.
Goals by Ndah Olisa in the 43rd minute and Sunday Adetunji in the 57th sealed the victory as the team stepped us preparations for the first leg in Omdurman on Thursday, to be followed by the return leg in Asaba on the 10th of September.
The Olympic Eagles started on a bright note, exerting much pressure on the opposition, but glorious goal-scoring opportunities in the first 20 minutes went begging.
Sunday Orji came close to scoring in the 22nd minute but blasted the ball over the bar, then had another chance but missed from a free-kick close to the box.
However, pressure mounted by the team finally paid off when central defender, Ndah Olisa broke the deadlock with a sumptuous header from Orji’s 43rd minute corner kick.
In the second half, Amapakabo’s boys continued with their dominance, but another big chance was lost by Sunday Adetunji, who then made no mistake in the 57th minute when he doubled the lead with a well-taken goal after receiving a lofty pass from Sunusi Ibrahim.
Ndifreke Effiong came close to adding to the numerical advantage but the referee ruled his effort offside, while Chibundu Amah also tried to nick the third goal but the opposing goalkeeper rushed out to stop him.
Despite his delight with their latest victory, Amapakabo admitted that his squad cannot afford to take Sudan for granted, as he recalls how the North Africans gave Nigeria’s under-20 squad, Flying Eagles a tough time earlier this year.
With that match in mind, Amapakabo says he has started working on how to contain Sudan’s potent threat in next month’s African U-23 Cup of Nations home and away face-off.
The former youth international goalkeeper, who made marks in coaching at club level in the Nigerian Professional Football League (NPFL) with Rangers International of Enugu and El-Kanemi Warriors of Maiduguri, added during a radio sports programme monitored in Lagos that his side will be fully ready to overcome Sudan, just as they did against Libya.
Amapakabo retorted: ‘We are already preparing to play against Sudan next month, and we are doing everything to avoid them surprising us.
“Remember that they played well against the Flying Eagles during the under-20 championship earlier this year, and it’s basically the same set of players they will use against us.
“That is why we have stepped up our training, and we are trying out new tactics that will help us overcome Sudan and win this match.
“It is more or less like what happened against Libya in the previous round. They also surprised us in the first leg, but we came back home to show where we are better than them. We will do the same with Sudan.”