Nigeria’s Flying Eagles will be gunning to get back on track in the on-going TotalEnergies U20 Africa Cup of Nations as they trade tackles with host nation Egypt on Matchday Day 2 on Wednesday at the Cairo International Stadium.
The Nigeria U20 men’s team lost narrowly to the Junior Teranga Lions of Senegal 0-1 in the opening game on Sunday but still stand a chance of qualifying for the quarter-final stage of the competition.
The Flying Eagles are upbeat they can upset the host nation and put their campaign back on track, as a win will put the team in good stead to qualify for the last eight.
The Flying Eagles boast of a rich pedigree in the competition with seven titles to their name while the Egyptians have won it four times.
Coach Isah Ladan Bosso will likely be without midfielder Daniel Daga, who was substituted against Senegal due to injury he sustained during the encounter.
“We prepared very well to face the Egyptian national team,” Bosso said at his pre-match press conference. “As coaches, we know how to deal with the loss and overcome it, and we are ready for the Egypt match.”
“The fans are important, but the fans do not win the matches. We saw during the World Cup Qatar were playing at home, but they were unable to advance to the next round,” Bosso emphasized.
The hosts were held to a frustrating goalless stalemate by the resolute Mozambique in the opening match of the 23rd edition of the U-20 AFCON.
They dominated large parts of the match at the Cairo International stadium but failed to deliver in front of their home fans in the capital. The host nation has only one point and will battle the Flying Eagles hard for the three points inside one of the biggest football arenas on the continent.
“We started working right after the Mozambique game,” Gaber confirmed. “Everyone is ready and we’re very motivated to win.”
The Pharaohs were a delight to watch with their neat interchange of passes and marauding fullbacks joining in the attack against Mozambique but Gaber hints at some possible changes.
“It is possible that we will change the way we play against Nigeria. We watched the Nigeria-Senegal match and we prepared well for the match,” said the former Ismaily coach.
“We suffered from a low defensive block against Mozambique, and we will not suffer from this against Nigeria due to the different way of playing.”
Nigeria and Egypt last met in semi-final stage of the Africa U20 Cup of Nations with the Egyptians taking the day by two goals to nothing.
Kick-off time for Wednesday’s game is 7pm local time (6pm Cameroon time).
Flying Eagles possible starting lineup – Nwosu (GK); Njoku, Chiemela Fredrick, Bameyi, Agbalaka; Ogbelu, Nicholas Jonathan, Lawal; Sunday Jude, Olamilekan Adams, Uchegbu
The Pharaohs possible starting lineup – Mostafa Makhlof (GK); Khaled Awad, Omar Fayed, Rashdan, Ahmed Reda; Mohamed Hamdy, Mohamed Fares, Karim Eldebes; Ahmed Esho, Ahmed Sherif, El Tamsah
Nigeria Flying Eagles vs Egypt Pharaohs prediction
The two nations enjoy a healthy rivalry at the U-20 Afcon, having faced each other six times since their first meeting 36 years ago.
Nigeria edge the head-to-head with three wins while losing two and the other ending in a draw.
The Flying Eagles thumped the Pharaohs 4-0 in Lagos and only lost 1-2 in Cairo in the quarterfinals on their way to winning a third title in 1987.
The two teams did not meet again until the final of Benin 2005 when the Flying Eagles recorded a 2-0 win to lift the trophy for the fifth time.
Egypt and Nigeria were drawn in Group B alongside Zambia and Cameroon in 2007, but the Flying Eagles advanced to the knockout rounds, alongside Zambia, after drawing 1-1 with the Young Pharaohs.
Again, the Egyptians exited the 2009 edition at the group stage following a 2-0 loss to Nigeria, with the Flying Eagles eventually finishing in third place.
The Pharaohs finally claimed their pound of flesh in 2013 when they dispatched Nigeria 2-0 in the semifinals on the way to their most recent title triumph.
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