• Nigerian referees on duty
Five-time world champions, the Golden Eaglets of Nigeria, and the Young Elephants of Cote d’Ivoire will file out for the first match of Group B of the West African Football Union (WAFU) B Tournament this evening with both teams looking to pick up the three points at the Lome’s Stade Municipal.
With the Group B having only three teams and each team to play only two matches, it is a more difficult prospect and any team that loses its first game is on knife-edge and could be staring down the barrel of elimination from Day One.
Nigeria’s Head Coach Fatai Amoo is confident his rookies can step up to the billing with bookmakers believing the five-time world champions are favourites to take the lead in a pool that has two-time world champions, Ghana, as the other contenders.
“We know what we are in for,” Amoo said. “It is not going to be a stroll. This is a fierce competition going by the calibre of opponents we have to battle right from the group stage. However, if we must qualify for the Africa Cup of Nations, we have to conquer all on our way to get there.
“Our focus is to get a good result from the first game and then consolidate as the tournament progresses. We are here for business; we will not under-rate any team or think there is a team that is too tough to conquer. Our objective on Wednesday (today) is the three points at stake and then we take things from there.”
Three points today would set the Eaglets on a good bounce at the tournament that always serves as qualifying competition for this year’s CAF U17 Cup of Nations taking place in the north African kingdom of Morocco.
It will also serve as a morale-booster ahead of the potentially explosive clash with arch rivals, Ghana, at the same venue on Saturday. Both countries have seven cadet world titles between them, and clashes between them at any level usually have an extra edge.
Meanwhile, host, Togo and Niger Republic battled in yesterday’s opening game, with 29-year old Nigerian referee Adebimpe Quadri as the centre referee at Stade de Kegue in Lome. He was assisted by another Nigerian, Celestine Efosa Igudia, who served as the first assistant referee.
Retired FIFA badged Assistant referee Peter Edibi was the Match Assessor.