Nigeria will slug it out with Zambia, South Africa and Cote d Ivoire in Group B of the 2019 Total U23 Africa Nations Cup holding in Egypt.
The championship proper which will hold from November 8 and 22 will begin with opening match on the 8th between hosts Egypt and Mali at the Cairo international stadium.
The Total U23 Africa Cup of Nations is held every four years and showcases some of African football’s emerging talents while also acting as a qualifier for the Summer Olympic Games Tokyo 2020.
Group A games have been scheduled for Cairo international Stadium while Group B matches will be played at the Al Salam Stadium.
The top three teams of the Total U23 Africa Cup of Nations will qualify to represent Africa at the Summer Olympic Games Tokyo 2020.
Nigeria has made three appearances in the tournament emerging as champions in the 2015 edition.
During the qualifiers, Nigeria navigated past Libya and Sudan.
The Olympic Eagles are favourites with the bookmakers to win Africa U23 Cup of Nations in Egypt. Futbalgalore.com picks six players that may explain why.
Going into the competition one would be forgiven for thinking Nigeria would take their foot off the pedal slightly.
Coach Imama Amapakabo is expected to name an extremely strong side to participate in the competition. Let’s take a look at the players who are set to hoist the flag of Nigeria at the tournament:
Orji Okwonkwo – Montreal Impact
The Bologna loanee impressed in 24 League appearances for the Montreal Impact first team last season in the MLS. His direct style proved to be disastrous for opposition defenders, scoring eight goals. Okwonkwo has pace to burn and knows where the back of the net is, but he is clearly still a raw talent. At times his approach looks one dimensional. Nigeria’s creative midfielders will have to be on form, providing the through-balls Okwonkwo feeds on.
Tom Dele-Bashiru – Watford
The Watford man will be looking to have a strong tournament in Egypt. The youngster will be Nigeria’s attacking outlet in midfield – his presence means he is more than capable of fulfilling the position.
Olisa Ndah – Remo Stars
One of the best young defenders the country has to offer. Olisa Ndah exudes quality in his contribution and approach to the game. His distribution and defensive ability makes one think he is a veteran. He will be the one marshaling the back line. The boy should see his stock sky rocket with a great tournament in Egypt.
Ibrahim Sunusi – Nasarawa United
The winger was menacing for Nigeria during the qualifiers. At only 17, Ibrahim Sunusi will be Nigeria’s biggest up-and-coming star in Egypt. He is also expected to be one of the surest sources of goals, as he scored 10 last season for Nasarawa United in the Nigeria Professional Football League (NPFL). His strong dribbling capabilities will also be exploited, but Sunusi’s ability to hold up the ball while waiting for support will be his most vital asset.
John Lazarus – Lobi Stars
Lobi Stars’ energetic right-back has been a consistent part in Nigeria’s defence at almost every level since the age of 15. John Lazarus’ ability to bomb down the right flank and his experience will certainly be essential if Nigeria wish to go all the way.
Kelechi Nwakali – Huesca
The midfielder was a colossal part of the Olympic Eagles team that qualified for the tournament in Egypt. Dubbed the ‘New Jay Jay Okocha’, the former Golden Eaglets and Flying Eagles skipper would often be the one supplying the forwards with the decisive pass. Nwakali will anchor Nigeria’s midfield as the playmaker in a deep-lying role, as his defensive contribution is often overlooked but cannot be downplayed.