African Nations Championship, CHAN Eagles have started second phase preparation ahead of next year’s Morocco tournament after emerging victorious in the NPFL Super 6 on Sunday.
The home-based Super Eagles in Kano emerged winners of the NPFL Invitational Tournament, the Super 6 after defeating MFM FC of Lagos 3-2 with a brace from Lobi Stars, Anthony Okpotu handing the Eagles the diadem.
Last season top scorer in the NPFL, Anthony Okpotu and Lobi Stars Kingsley Eduwo gave the CHAN a 3-0 lead in the early part of the game, but the Olukoya Boys showed the fight in them when they reduced the tally to 3-2 with strikes from Jonathan Zikiye and Chuka Uwaga.
The match was a caged affair as the runner up in the just concluded 2016/17 Nigeria Professional Football League, MFM made the Morocco-bound Eagles to sweat for the victory. Enthusiastic fans, who had been witnesses to the entertaining football served by six of the biggest teams in the country in the last one-week, as usual filled the Sani Abacha Stadium, Kano, venue of the championship.
It made for a tense final moments as the Olukoya Boys sought the equaliser, which the national team was not ready to allow.
Salisu Yusuf returned to regular starters with Rabiu Ali, Moses Eneji, Ifeanyi Ifeanyi all returning to the fold but there was no chance for team captain, Ikechukwu Ezenwa, with Theophilus Afelokai in his stead.
While MFM handler, Fidelis Ilechukwu stuck with the starting XI that secured the decisive 1-1 draw with hosts, Kano Pillars.
The CHAN Eagles who participated in the Super 6 used the tournament as a build up for next year’s CHAN tournament in Morocco. The traditional Super 4 was increased to six to accommodate the Eagles and the host state, Kano Pillars.
In the meantime, the CHAN Super Eagles in Abuja opened camp on Monday ahead of the 2018 Morocco Championship due to commence on 13th January 2018
The first phase of preparations ended in Kano on Sunday with the team emerging victorious at the NPFL Invitational Super Six Tournament after outscoring CAF Champions League representatives MFM FC of Lagos 3-2 in the final. In earlier matches, they drew 0-0 with League champions Plateau United and pipped two –time African champions Enyimba FC 1-0.
Plateau United of Jos as well as other Nigerian flag-bearers in the continent, Enyimba of Aba and Akwa United of Uyo, alongside the host city’s Kano Pillars took part in the tourney.
Immediately after Sunday’s win, Coach Salisu Yusuf told newsmen that preparations would move into the second phase where some of the lapses seen in the team would be corrected and some fresh players called up.
“I am very impressed with the team. We did not have any elaborate preparation before the Super Six tournament and yet these boys raised their game, improved with every match and won the trophy. I congratulate them but this is the beginning of real hard work for us.
“We will begin the next phase of preparations immediately. We want to also see some new players in certain positions and correct some mistakes we made during some of our games in Kano while strengthening and consolidating on our strong areas.”
The Eagles will be camped at the Bolton White Hotels and Apartments for what promises a more intensive phase of training before they jet out to Morocco in the first week of January.
The Total African Nations Championship (CHAN) is a football tournament which was first announced on 11 September 2007. It is played among the best national teams of Africa, exclusively featuring players who are active in the national leagues. Foreign players, regardless of where they play, even in Africa, are not qualified to take part in the African Nations Championship
The first tournament was held in 2009. It was hosted by Ivory Coast and won by The Democratic Republic of the Congo. The competition was expanded to 16 teams for the second tournament, held in Sudan in 2011.
The tournament is held every two years, alternating with the Africa Cup of Nations