Cup holders Nigeria will refuse to negotiate dropping any of the three points when they confront the Elephants of Cote d’Ivoire in Cairo in Saturday’s opener to Group B of the 3rd Africa U23 Cup of Nations.
The tantalizing West African derby will unfold at the Al Salam Stadium in Cairo – the same venue where the Super Eagles picked up the bronze medals of the 32nd AFCON after pipping Tunisia 1-0 in July – as from 3pm Egypt time (2pm in Nigeria).
On Thursday, the Nigeria camp received a morale boost when top officials of the Nigeria embassy in Cairo, led by Abubakar Sadiq Muhammad, visited the team to deliver the message of the Ambassador, Prof. Dandatti Abdulkadir.
“On behalf of the Nigerian Ambassador to Egypt, Prof. Dandatti Abdulkadir, OFR, and the Nigerian Government, I welcome you you to Egypt and wish you a successful outing in the forthcoming U23 AFCON tournament. Football is a major unifying factor in our country, and I believe you will all make us proud starting with the game against Cote d’Ivoire. Our presence here is to make sure you are comfortable. We will be at the stadium on Saturday in order to give you our maximum support,” said Muhammad, in company with Head of Chancery Ibrahim Ahmed Al-Ghazali and Muhammad Tukur Garba, Administrative Officer.
The Nigeria U23 contingent spent six days in Ismailia fine-tuning preparations for the finals before arriving in Cairo on Wednesday, where they are staying at the Novotel Hotel and Resorts.
Despite missing the services of substantive captain Azubuike Okechukwu and forward Taiwo Awoniyi for Saturday’s encounter, Imama Amakapabo is bullish about the chances of his team against the fellow West Africans.