U20 AFCON: Flying Eagles under the Microscope

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Nigeria, Flying Eagles, will be heading into the 2023 U20 Africa Cup of Nations tournament in Egypt as one of the favourites or to at least reach the semi finals, hence clinching a World Cup spot.

But, the task of navigating the tournament won’t be easy for the Flying Eagles, paired alongside other African giants in Egypt and Senegal, not forgetting to mention Mozambique.

The first game against Senegal will be the strongest test, the young Lions of Teranga had somewhat been a tough opposition for the Eagles in the past.

Their meeting saw Senegal knock out Nigeria in the round of 16 of the 2019 FIFA world cup in Poland.

Senegal are definitely no push overs and will be high on confidence as they are unbeaten in all preparatory games before this tournament; winning 5 and drawing one.

However, history favours Nigeria to tip this one, as the last time Nigeria was paired in the same group with Senegal, the Flying Eagles got the better of them twice in 2015 beating the 3-1 in the group before edging them 1-0 in the final to win the tournament.

Next will be a more tricky task against host Nation, Egypt, and by the time they meet the Young Pharaohs, the group will already be taking shape.

The Egyptians are four times U20 AFCON winners themselves, and will definitely not be easy game. The young Pharaohs will be out to win the tournament in front of their home fans for the first time in ten years.

Historically the two teams have meet twice with Nigeria winning the first encounter 2-0 when drawn in the same group in 2009.

Egypt though responded by the same scoreline when they dispatched Nigerian in the semi finals en route winning their most recent AFCON tournament in 2013.

Egypt most recently reached the finals of the Arab Cup defeating the likes of Algeria and Morocco in the process.

After going through those two test then they have the relatively new problem of Mozambique. This exciting team recently reached the finals of the COSAFA U20 Championship losing 1-0 to Zambia, but Nigeria will be leery of their threat.

Flying Eagles have not faced the Young Mambas at this level, and this debut match leaves Nigeria, expectedly, as marginal favourites.

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