Nigeria’s Under 23 team will today confront their Egyptian counterpart in a must win match for either side. Nigeria won her first match against Mali while Egypt played out a 1-1 draw with North Africa neighbours Algeria on Sunday.
Siasia and his boys need a win to seal a semi final place and boost their chances of the Olympic ticket while Pharaohs cannot afford to loose, otherwise they are out of the race for next year’s Olympics.
Already both coaches have identified flaws that worked against them on Sunday and are planning to make amends.
The game is going to be won from the bench, going from the approach adopted by the coaches after their first round of matches.
Both coaches are tactically sound and are equal to the task. Pharaoh’s coach Hossam El-Badri said:
“The Nigeria match will be tough as both teams combine very skilled and talented players and because it’s the second game of the tournament.”
“We need to win the game to keep our hopes of reaching the semi-finals alive in an attempt to win it and snatch the Rio ticket,” El-Badry added. “We have worked on the players’ morale, setting motivations for them and I believe they have closed the Al-geria game file,” he said.
Siasia said: “We were damn lucky in our first game against Mali, after watching that game again, all I can say is that this is not christmas yet and as such my players can not give out free gifts, because if we do that against an organised side like Egypt who are good in set pieces, then we are finished” “Our target today is to go all out and attack, attack, attack, because that is our strong point, then we will work on our defence line, so that we don’t give out cheap and easy passes to our opponents”
Expressing satisfaction with the performance of his team despite conceding two second half goals, the U-23 gaffer said what is uppermost was that they won the game and got the 3 points, and that a win against Egypt will put the team in the semi final, so they have to work very hard.
On whether he will use Chile U-17 top scorer Victor Osimhen in the competition, coach Siasia had this to say “the young man is in my plans, when the right time comes I will introduce him, he has a lot of potentials that I can tell you, but we need to wait for the right time, he is a part of this team.
The top two teams in each group will qualify for the semis in the eightteam tournament.
The first three teams in the final round will represent Africa in the upcoming Olympic games in Rio de Janeiro in Brazil.
– Chimaobi Uchendu