LAGOS – Nigeria’s U23 team will today (Thursday) taken on their counterparts from Sudan in the Under-23 Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON) final round qualifying first leg match at the Al Merriekh Stadium in Omduram.
The coach Imama Amapakabo’s tutored side will be hoping to avoid defeat in this encounter ahead of the return fixture at the Stephen Keshi Stadium, Asaba next Tuesday.
It will be recalled that Amapakabo has selected Mainz forward, Taiwo Awoniyi, Genk’s Stephen Odey and 16 players for the qualifier.
The Olympic Eagles are aiming to advance into the continental tournament in Egypt later in November with the hopes of defending the title they won in 2015.
After several weeks of intensive training in Abuja, the team left the Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport with 12 officials on Tuesday for Omdurman.
Meanwhile, a handful of foreign-based players that had been expected to feature for the team will not play the match after all, as the legion that featured in the last match against Libya, Victor Osimhen, David Chidozie Okereke, Francis Odinaka Uzoho, Chidozie Awaziem, Kingsley Michael and Dennis Emmanuel Bonaventure did not turn up at the squad’s camp in Abuja.
However, despite the absences of all the others Amapakabo had his Turkey-based captain, Azubuike Okechukwu available, alongside the duo of Belgium-based forward, Stephen Odey and Taiwo Awoniyi from SV Mainz of Germany, as well 15 home-based players for the match.
Joint-top scorer in the Nigeria Professional Football League (NPFL), Sunusi Ibrahim has been tasked with the role of leading the line for the team.
Amapakabo’s full squad that flew out of Abuja on Tuesday has Abubakar Adamu, Agbor Ekoi, Nda Olisa, Stephen Manyo, John Lazarus, Ebube Duru, Collins Ogbodo, Azubuike Okechukwu, Fatai Gbadamosi, Sunday Adetunji, Blessing Muyiwa, Ndifreke Effiong, Taiwo Awoniyi, Onyeka Ogochukwu, Sunusi Ibrahim, Sunday Faleye, Stephen Odey and Etboy Akpan.
The full squad for the match include: Adamu Abubakar, Agbor Ekoi (goalkeepers); Stephen Manyo, Nda Olisa, John Lazarus, Ebube Duru, Etboy Akpan (defenders); Azubike Okechukwu, Fatai Gbadamosi, Collins Ogbodo, Frank Ogochukwu Onyeka, Ndifreke Effiong (midfielders); Sunusi Ibrahim, Sunday Faleye, Sunday Adetunji, Taiwo Awoniyi, Stephen Odey, Blessing Muyiwa (attackers).