Olympic Eagles open AFCON U-23 title defence against Cote d’Ivoire

Olympic Eagles Head Coach Imama Amapaakabo dishing out instructions to his team
Olympic Eagles Head Coach Imama Amapaakabo dishing out instructions to his team

The Olympic Eagles will today begin their quest for the Tokyo 2020 Olympics ticket against Ivory Coast this Saturday in Al Salem stadium in Egypt.

Nigeria had defeated Libya and Sudan to qualify for the third edition of the Africa U-23 Championship to be hosted in the city of Cairo and Al Salam from November 8-22, where they will face South Africa, Zambia and Cote d’Ivoire In Group B of the tournament.

Defending champions, Olympic Eagles who have been in Egypt since last week are determined to make Nigerians happy.

They have promised to atone for the failure of the Super Falcons to qualify for Tokyo 2020.

Head coach, Imama Amapakapo is aware of the task ahead of him and has declared the team’s preparedness to clinch the ticket after his team failed to qualify for the 2020 African Nations Championship.

“The players have been working very hard and that is a positive point. They are looking forward to the tournament with a lot of enthusiasm and confidence,” he said.

There are 15 overseas-based players in the squad of 21 and among them are six home-based players led by Ibrahim Sunusi, the joint-top scorer in the 2018 Nigeria Professional Football League season.

The squad also includes big defender Valentine Ozornwanfor of Spanish second-tier side Almeria, Turkey-based Sincere Seth and Samuel Atavti of Tunisian giants Esperance as well as former Arsenal midfielder Kelechi Nwakali, who was only four years ago voted the Most Valuable Player at the FIFA U-17 World Cup. He has featured for the Super Eagles.

Meanwhile, Captain Azubuike Okechukwu is likely to miss the Olympic Eagles’ opening match following his participation at the Europa League game for his club, Basaksehir on Thursday night against Wolfsberger AC.

The tournament will determine which three African teams will compete at the 2020 Summer Olympics men’s football tournament in Japan.

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