Nigeria’s under-20 team the Flying Eagles have landed in South African seeking to win the African Youth Championship beginning on Sunday.
Nigeria will open its account on Monday April 18 with a battle against defending champions, Ghana. While Cameroon and Gambia the other teams in group B will take their turn to size themselves up in the tournament that serves as a qualifier for the FIFA Under-20 World Cup in Colombia.
As the Flying Eagles jetted out Thursday, coach John Obuh was no under any illusion that he and his team were going for a tea party, especially when he had the long list of achievements made by the Flying Eagles in continental and global soccer staring at him.
Obuh’s team did not impression Nigerian fans in their pre-tournament build with a string of draws in their playing tour of the middle East. But the coach however, was optimistic that his boys drawn largely from the Eaglets class of 2009 will live above board and fend off challenge from opponents vying for the title and the ticket to Colombia.
“Honestly we have had a good build up and this implies that we must live up to the expectations of Nigeria.
“We don’t have any excuse and that is why I am calling on Nigerians to support us with their prayers because luck will also play an essential role in this campaign,” Obuh said.
He would need all the luck to win his first ever trophy. Obuh had the chance in 2009 with the Eaglets at the FIFA Under-17 World Cup, but he lost to Switzerland in the final decided in Abuja.
“I was disappointed that we lost to Switzerland. Having come that close made it even more painful, but all that is in the past.
“After the longer time to build the U20 team, we have made some positive changes in the team….eight of the U17 boys will be going are playing the AYC. And I believe we will get a better result than what we got in 2009.
Besides while his group opponents left early for preparation in high altitude South Africa, Obuh and his boys were in low altitude Port Harcourt training.
“There was nothing we could have done in that regards. We just have to hope for the best in the tournament.”