Flying Eagles aim to end poor run against Ghana
Nigeria’s Flying Eagles will aim to improve on their head-to-head record with Ghana when they clash today for a place in the final of the 2015 African Youth Championship (AYC) in Dakar.
Nigeria have only beaten the Black Satellites once in five meetings at the AYC. It was at the 2011 tournament in South Africa when a goal by Uche Nwofor and the individual brilliance of Ahmed Musa combined to dump the defending world champions.
However, the Flying Eagles have lost to their West African rivals on the other four occasions they have clashed – in 1985 (2-1), 1993 (1-0), 1999 (1-0) and 2001 (4-1)).
But the Nigeria U20s are bullish they can go all the way in Senegal to clinch a seventh AYC crown after they would have brushed aside the Black Satellites.
“We know the entire country expects only one thing from us – victory. And we will deliver this on Wednesday and in the final on Sunday,” vowed striker Taiwo Awoniyi, who has shone at this tournament with three goals thus far.
“There will really be no point qualifying for the World Cup if we cannot go there as champions of Africa,” added coach Manu Garba ahead of this epic semifinal.
“Our tournament starts with this game and we have to be prepared to win it so as to stay on track for our main target, which is to be champions of Africa.
“This is the final before the final, it will even be tougher than the final.”
Ghana have won this competition four times, but they were disappointing against fellow West Africans, Mali, in a final group game on Sunday. However, Coach Sellas Tetteh insisted he gave several untested players a run so as not to risk star players like Yaw Yeboah and Samuel Tetteh, who were already on a booking each.
“We will put our house in order to face Nigeria. We’re capable,” maintained the coach, who led the Black Satellites to win Africa’s first U20 World Cup six years ago.
The Flying Eagles will go into today’s encounter with a psychological edge having defeated their rivals 2-0 in Tema in a friendly last month.
The first warm-up between both teams in Accra ended in an exciting 2-2 draw.
Kick-off time at the Leopold Sedar Senghor Stadium is 6.00 p.m. Nigerian time.
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