The delegation of Senior National Team of Seychelles, known as Pirates, has landed in Nigeria for Friday’s 2019 Africa Cup of Nations qualifying match against the Super Eagles.
Group leaders Nigeria have already secured their place in the finals and will be in the pot for the draw on Friday, 12th April at CAF’s headquarters in Cairo, while the Pirates were long eliminated and have only come to fulfill the fixture.
A 29-man delegation of the Pirates arrived Abuja aboard an Ethiopian Airline flight on Tuesday afternoon, and would be flown to Asaba on Wednesday.
The Eagles are also at the same time preparing for a prestige friendly game against the Pharaohs of Egypt, who are seven-time champions and record winners of the continent’s most prestigious football diadem. This match comes up on Tuesday next week, also at the Stephen Keshi Stadium, Asaba.
Meanwhile, Cup holders Nigeria begin their Africa U-23 title defence in Tunisia today when they take on their Libyan counterparts in a first round, first leg encounter of the qualification series.
Today’s encounter, which kicks off at 3pm Tunisia time (same as in Nigeria) on the artificial turf of the Ben Guerdane Stadium in the city of Ben Guerdane, will see Nigeria’s Head Coach, Imama Amapakabo throw in his best dice for a good result ahead of the return leg in Asaba on Monday.
Amapakabo travelled with a good blend of home boys and overseas-based professionals. Lobi Stars’ trio of John Lazarus, Ugochukwu Anumudu and Ebube Duru are joined by Enyimba’s Dare Olatunji and Stephen Egbe, and Wikki Tourists’ goalie Adamu Abubakar, among others.
Former U-17 World Cup winners Taiwo Awoniyi, Kelechi Nwakali, Kingsley Michael, Orji Okonkwo, Chidera Ezeh and Samuel Chukwueze are among the Europe-based who teamed up with the delegation in Tunisia.
Victory on Wednesday would pave the way to the final round of qualifiers for the champions, which is due in June.
CAF has appointed Ghanaian officials to take charge of proceedings, with Daniel Laryea as referee. Acheampong Brobbey is the assistant referee 1 while Emmanuel Allou is assistant referee 2 and Adaar Abdul Latif is the fourth official. Amir Osman Mohamed Amid from Sudan is the match commissioner.
Nigeria is the only African country to have won gold, silver and bronze medals of the Men’s Olympic Football Tournament. Gold was won at the Centennial Games in Atlanta, USA, and silver came in Beijing, China in 2008. The bronze medal was won at the 2016 Games in Brazil.
Africa’s flag-bearers in the Men’s Olympic Football Tournament of Tokyo 2020 will emerge during the 3rd Africa U-23 Cup of Nations to hold in Egypt 8th – 22nd November this year.