By Amaechi Agbo
Nigeria’s male U-20 national team, the Flying Eagles will today battle the Black Satellites of Ghana in a make-or-break encounter that will determine Nigeria’s fate in two fronts – qualifications to 2021 U-20 Africa Youth Championship and FIFA U-20 World Cup same year.
A win in the match will be a great relief to the Ladan Bosso led lads but that victory is subject to how many goals margin the team scored against the Ghanaians considering that they played a 1-1 draw against Ivory Coast on Sunday.
Playing in Group B of the West Africa Football Union Zone B qualifying series holding in Benin Republic with three teams in the group – Nigeria, Ghana and Ivory Coast, only the group winner will qualify for the AYC holding in Mauritania next year.
On Sunday, defender Christopher Nwaeze was sent off as Ivory Coast forced Flying Eagles to a 1-1 draw in the 2020 WAFU B U-20 Cup of Nations group B game at the Stade Charles de Gaulles.
Ousmane Traore’s stoppage-time strike earned the Baby Elephants a share of the spoils in Port Novo, Benin Republic.
The Flying Eagles who are in Group B will continue their campaign against Ghana’s Black Satellites on Wednesday (today) at the Stade Charles de Gaulles in Porto Novo. And Nigeria is under immense pressure to beat the odds.
In a keenly contested game on Sunday, the Flying Eagles put up a very determined performance despite the red card picked up by Nwaeze. Nwaeze’s goal appeared to have put Ladan Bosso side on course for an opening Group B win, but the Baby Elephants levelled late on.
Both sides created chances in an entertaining first half, with Peter Olawale and Nwaeze coming close for Nigeria. The contest continued was evenly balanced in the opening 45 minutes, although Nigeria was having more joy in cutting out Cote d’Ivoire attacks.
The curtain raiser eventually arrived on the hour mark. Crafty forward Wisdom Ubani sent an excellent delivery to the box and Nwaeze showed gratitude with a brilliant header beyond the keeper. The Flying Eagles were in complete control of the game until Nwaeze was sent to the showers for a second bookable offence on 71 minutes.
Despite playing with a man down, the determined Flying Eagles maintained their discipline and tactical awareness. But, in the first minute of added time, Traoré struck the equaliser and it ended 1-1 in Port Novo.
The Ladan Bosso wards showed great strength in the opening game and will be looking at positives ahead of the clash with Ghana. The tournament in Benin Republic will serve as qualifiers for the 2021 Africa U20 Cup of Nations in Mauritania, which will, in turn, determine Africa’s representatives for the 2021 FIFA U20 World Cup in Indonesia.