The two countries can still qualify for the knockout rounds of the continental youth championship in a winner-takes-it-all tie
There are valid reasons why Nigeria’s Flying Eagles, the most successful team in the history of the CAF U20 Africa Cup of Nations, have to be wary of South African minnows Mozambique, says former Golden Eaglets coach Manu Garba.
Nigeria are second in Group A after beating Egypt and losing to Senegal, and are the heavy favourites to defeat Mozambique in the first meeting between the nations at this level.
Mozambique already bettered their first appearance at the U20 AFCON. On their debut in 2021, the Mambas lost all their three group games to finish the bottom of the pile.
At Egypt 2023, they earned their first point in a stunning opening-day draw against the hosts and were battered 3-0 on matchday two.
Mozambique can still qualify for the quarter-finals with a win against Nigeria, but another bashing looks more likely against the Flying Eagles.
But veteran Nigerian coach Manu Garba warns that the South African minnows must not be underrated.
One of Nigeria’s most successful coaches at the youth level after winning the FIFA U17 World Cup and the U20 Africa Cup of Nations, Garba insists the Mambas will be stung by their last defeat and be motivated by the quarterfinal ticket.
What has been said?
“We should be wary of Mozambique because they are a wounded lion, and they will want to come out against us because they still have the chance of qualifying for the next round,” coach Garba told the Telegraph.
“They will not want to go home empty-handed; we should not underrate them. We should go all out against them to have qualified; they are not pushovers, so we should play them like it is another cup final.
“After we lost the first match, I said people should calm down and that the team will surely come good because we still have two matches, and now the team has kick-started their campaign with a hard-fought win against the host Egypt, the next thing is to go all out against Mozambique and qualify for the quarterfinal.”
Nigeria’s Flying Eagles have the best record at the AFCON, with seven titles, two runners-up medals, and three bronze medals.