By Albert Akota
Norwegian club, IK Start has granted the request of Nigeria Football Federation to release former Super Eagles B star Afeez Olalekan Aremu to feature for the U20 boys, Flying Eagles in Saturday’s Africa U20 Cup of Nations qualifier against Mauritania in Lagos.
The defensive midfielder turned up at the Flying Eagles’ Pearlwort Hotel camp in Ikeja and decided to train with the squad. The technical crew was impressed with his game and being eligible, he was asked if he could feature on Saturday. But he said his Norwegian club would have to grant permission for him to play as he is on holiday in Nigeria.
Team Administrator Aliyu Lawal Ibrahim immediately commenced the process and within the hour, the Kristiansand –based Club granted the permission with a caveat that the player must fly back to Norway on Sunday, 22nd July.
Aremu played for the Eagles B in the qualifiers for the 2018 African Nations Championship and at the WAFU Cup of Nations in Ghana in September 2017, but travelled to Norway before the CHAN finals in Morocco.
The Flying Eagles have been training at the Agege Stadium since returning from Nouakchott where they were forced to a 1-1 draw in the first leg of this final qualifying fixture. Coach Paul Aigbogun, alongside assistants Abdu Maikaba, Hassan Abdallah and Suleiman Shuaibu drilled the players on Monday morning, Tuesday and Wednesday evenings and on Thursday morning, with the final training session scheduled for Friday evening.
The Mauritania U20 squad has been together, on-and-off basis, for the past four years and play a quick, passing game though they mostly falter in the final third – a deficiency that Aigbogun’s wards have also been striving hard to overcome.
Emphasis at training these past few days has been on putting away opportunities, and goalkeepers Detan Ogundare, Akpan Udoh and Robert Cole have also been drilled on thwarting the opposition even on one-on-one situations.
Saturday’s cracker kicks off at 4pm, with the seven –time African champions guaranteed a spot in the finals in Niger Republic early next year if they avoid defeat or a high –score draw.
Nigeria have been champions of Africa at U20 level in 1983, 1985, 1987, 1989, 2005, 2011 and 2015.
The Mauritanian delegation flew into Lagos on Wednesday morning and will have the official training at the Agege Stadium by 4pm on Friday.
The Confederation of African Football has appointed Egyptian officials to take charge of the match, with Mahmoud Zakaria Mohamed El Banna as Referee. He will work with compatriots Ahmed Taha Hossam (Assistant Referee 1), Hany Abdelfattah Mahmoud Elsnadidy (Assistant Referee 2) and Ahmed Mahrous Mahmoud Ahmed Hassan ElGhandour (Reserve Referee).
Mr. Sallieu Kamara from Sierra Leone will serve as match commissioner.