By Albert Akota
The Nigeria Football Federation (NFF) has handed the reins of their national U-23 team to Imama Amapakabo.
The 49-year-old succeeds Salisu Yusuf, who is serving a ban imposed on him by the NFF last year in relation to bribery and corruption.
Amapakabo was the U-23s first assistant coach, but now has the hot seat for their matches against Libya next month in the second round of qualifying for the 2019 African Under-23 Cup of Nations finals.
Whether Yusuf will reclaim his role as head coach upon the completion of his ban in September remains unknow.
Amapakabo served on the technical team of Nigeria’s senior side under coach Gernot Rohr at the World Cup in Russia last year.
He also worked with Yusuf in the Nigerian team which finished as runners-up at last year’s African Nations Championship (CHAN) in Morocco.
The NFF will expect him to secure a qualification berth for the U-23 continental finals, which will be held in Egypt in November.
That tournament will in turn serve as the final phase of qualifiers for the 2020 Olympic Games. The top three teams at the U-23 AFCON secure a place at the global event in Tokyo.