The Nigeria U-20 national team lost their opening group game against Senegal and cannot afford another stumble on matchday two
Nigeria’s Flying Eagles have a huge mountain to climb when they trade tackles with hosts Egypt in both countries’ second match at the U20 Africa Cup of Nations.
The WAFU-B champions suffered an agonising 1-0 defeat to West African brothers Senegal on matchday one after failing to recover from Souleymane Faye’s opportunistic first-half strike.
Egypt were only slightly better, though, as the Young Pharaohs were held to an uninspiring goalless draw by less-fancied Mozambique.
But against Nigeria, the North Africans will be desperate to secure the win that will calm the nerves of their football-loving home fans.
The Flying Eagles, however, cannot afford to suffer a second consecutive defeat that could ultimately spell the end of their adventure at the 17th edition of the biennial African international youth football tournament.
The two nations enjoy a healthy rivalry at the 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 Baby Eagles thumped the North Africans 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 North Africans 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.
- Egypt were the first team to host the U20 Afcon tournament after its format was changed from a home-and-away setup to a championship. The Young Pharaohs lifted the trophy, becoming the first country to host and win.
- There are eleven U20 Afcon winners’ medals between Nigeria and Egypt, with the Flying Eagles boasting a record seven titles while their opponents have four.
- Egypt are one of five teams to have won the tournament as hosts. The Young Pharaohs, however, aim to be the first side to win it twice on home soil.
- Since the tournament format was introduced to the U20 Afcon in 1991, Nigeria’s Flying Eagles have only lost three opening games in 12 appearances, including Sunday’s loss to Senegal.
Competition: U20 CAF Africa Cup of Nations
Stage: Group stage
Match: Nigeria vs. Egypt
Venue: Cairo International Stadium
Date: Wednesday, 22 February 2023
Kickoff time: 6 pm (Nigerian time)
What are they saying?
Flying Eagles head coach Ladan Bosso:
“We prepared very well to face the Egyptian national team.
“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.”
Egypt U-20 head coach Mahmoud Gaber:
“We started working right after the Mozambique game. Everyone is ready and we’re very motivated to win.
“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.
“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.”
Where to watch
All the matches will be live on TV, with CAF’s broadcast partners giving viewers coverage globally.
CAFTV (YouTube) will also have all the matches live in territories not covered by a CAF Broadcast partner.
Egyptian public will be able to have access to all the matches on TimesSport – the local broadcaster.
Canal+, SuperSport, and StarTimes will ensure that viewers in the Sub-Sahara have access to all the matches. Vejay Sport will cover a number of territories internationally.
Several free-to-air broadcasters will also show the TotalEnergies U20 AFCON live, including:
RTI (Cote d’Ivoire)
AfroSport TV (Nigeria)
SABC (South Africa)
MultiMedia Group (Ghana Radio)
Soccernet.ng (Live commentary)
Photo Credit: CAF