Flying Eagles seek Squirrels’ cap to add regional glory to continental ticket

Defending champions the Olympic Eagles of Nigeria got off their campaign at the 2019 U-23 Africa Cup of Nations on a dour note following a 1-0 loss to Cote d’Ivoire at the Al Salam Stadium, Cairo, on Saturday evening.

Nigeria and neighbours Benin Republic, both already qualified for the 17th Africa U20 Cup of Nations, Egypt 2023, will slug it out on Friday to determine which of the two teams is the best U20 squad in the West African Football Union B zone.

Like Nigeria, Benin Republic emerged winners of their pool in the group phase, above second-placed Cote d’Ivoire.

They then defeated Burkina Faso, second-placed team in Group B, 2-1 in the first semifinal match on Wednesday.

Seven-time African champions Nigeria also defeated Cote d’Ivoire 2-1 after extra time in a tense and turgid affair at the Stade General Seyni Kountché, the winner coming from the penalty spot 21 minutes into extra time after both teams were locked at 1-1 following regulation time.

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Friday’s encounter will confer bragging rights on the winning side and immense confidence going into next year’s continental finals, and Coach Ladan Bosso said on Thursday that his boys are ready to go all out for the trophy.

Bosso said: “We are happy to have the AFCON ticket under our belts now, but we want more.

“The Cup is now within reach and we will go all out for it.

“We want to be WAFU B champions.

“That will give us tremendous boost going into the African championship next year.”

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