U-23 AFCON: Nigeria in dicey clash against S’Africa

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Nigeria’s U-23 team have their back against the wall when they face South in their final Group B game at the 2019 Africa U-23 Cup of Nations‚ needing just a win to advance to the semi-finals and stay on course for the 2020 Tokyo Olympic Games.

The tie sparks up an old rivalry that has seen both sides clash at all age-group levels‚ with the Nigerians coming out tops in most of the confrontations.

Imama Amapakabo’s charges are brimming with confidence after their resounding 3-1 win over Zambia in their second Group B game.

They had earlier lost 1-0 to Ivory Coast in their opening game last Saturday.

Should the U-23 Eagles draw the game, they will have to rely on Zambia beating Ivory Coast by a lone goal and then on goal-difference‚ to book a semi-final spot.

A loss to South Africa and Ivory Coast getting at least a point off Zambia will end Nigeria’s hopes of defending their title and reaching the 2020 Tokyo Olympic.

South Africa midfielder Teboho Mokoena is hopeful they can keep Nigeria at bay to get‚ at the very least‚ the point they need.

“Nigeria have a great side‚ we need to focus again and go with the same mentality‚,” he told a post-match conference.

“We have kept two clean sheets‚ if we keep another one, then we know we are into the next round. Then we know we are safe.”

Mokoena’s stunning free-kick against the Ivorians in their last game‚ a 1-0 win on Tuesday‚ put South Africa into pole position in the pool.

The top two teams in each group will advance to the semi-finals‚ while the finalists and bronze-medal winners will book their places at the Olympic Games next year.

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