By Albert Akota
Five –time world champions Nigeria kick –start their campaign for a place in the 2019 U17 Africa Cup of Nations against their Burkinabe counterparts in Niamey today.
Both teams clash from 4pm in what is the second match of the Seven-Nation CAF U17 AFCON Qualifiers (WAFU B). Nigeria, Burkina Faso, Cote d’Ivoire and Benin Republic play in Group A, with host Niger Republic, Ghana and Togo in Group A.
Already, the organizers have picked Nigerien official Mohamed Ali as referee, with Beninoise Éric Ayimavo as assistant referee 1 and another Nigerien, Abdoul Aziz Yacouba as assistant referee 2.
The reserve referee is Ognankotan Ntale from Togo while former FIFA referee, Bonaventure Coffi Codja from Benin Republic is the referee assessor.
The Eaglets will then tackle Cote d’Ivoire on Thursday before rounding off the group phase against Benin Republic on Sunday.
A new format approved for the competition at the CAF Extra-Ordinary General Assembly which took place in Rabat 13 months ago means countries in each regional bloc gather in one country within the bloc to play a qualifying tournament, as against the old format of home-and-away qualifying series.
Only the winning team from each of the blocs (apart from the bloc of the defending champions that will produce two teams) will qualify for the final tournament, slated for Tanzania next year