Olympic Eagles’ duo of Sunday Adetunji and Ebube Duru have taken up the gauntlet of leading the team’s charge for victory in the second leg of their African U-23 Cup of Nations qualifier against Sudan, as they believe the Nigerian squad will get a better result on Tuesday at Stephen Keshi Stadium, Asaba.
Adetunji, a striker with Enyimba of Aba, and Duru, a defender from Lobi Stars of Makurdi, both opined that yesterday’s 1-0 loss in the first leg was not a true reflection of their performance, hence their verdict that Sudan will fall in Asaba.
Adetunji and Duru are picking positives ahead of the reverse fixture, as they insist the Olympic Eagles were the better side on Thursday, but still lost by a single goal to Sudan in the Tokyo 2020 football event qualifier at Al Merriekh Stadium in Omdurman.
Indeed, the Eagles had a couple of chances to score in the first half but Taiwo Awoniyi and Stephen Odey were guilty of missing them but, while the first of the duo was fouled in the Sudanese penalty area in the 38th minute, the referee refused to award a spot kick to Nigeria.
The hosts then scored through Walaa El Din just before the half time break, following which Nigeria’s goalkeeper, Adamu Abubakar saved superbly from a counter attack by the Sudanese two minutes into the second half.
The Nigerians made three second half substitutions geared towards finding an equaliser, with the ineffectual Awoniyi one of the key players making way and replaced by Adetunji, but they could restore parity, yet staying positive ahead of the second leg on Tuesday at Stephen Keshi Stadium, Asaba, from which the winner will qualify for the U23 Africa Cup of Nations in Egypt.
Ahead of that reverse fixture, Adetunji and Duru both enthused that the Olympic Eagles will get it right, as they assured Nigerians of their determination to put their cart back on track and redeem themselves with victory in the Delta State capital.
Adetunji declared: “I can tell you with a lot confidence that we will cancel the defeat when we face them in the second leg.
“We should not have lost the first leg in Sudan, but we were just unlucky, because we played better than them. I am sure when we get to Asaba, we will get our own victory over them.”
Duru added: “It’s painful that we lost but, all the same, we give thanks to God. It was painful, because we played better than them, and we deserved to win. It was painful for us to lose the first leg, but we will turn things around in the second leg.”