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Sports News of Friday, 24 March 2023


Knocks for Salisu’s U-23 after Guinea stalemate

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Nigerians are expressing fears of missing out on a consecutive men’s football event at the Olympic Games following the lacklustre display of the U-23 Eagles in the first leg of the final round of qualifiers for the 2023 U-23 AFCON in Abuja on Wednesday, The PUNCH reports.

The Olympics Eagles were held to a goalless draw by their Guinea counterparts at the Moshood Abiola Stadium in Abuja, leaving them with some work to do as they go into the second leg on Tuesday in Morocco.

Aside from their poor display, Salisu Yusuf’s boys finished the game with 10 men as defender Chris Nwaeze was sent off for a second bookable offence after the Guineans broke in their numbers on the counter.

ACL Sports reporter, Samuel Areo described the game as tepid while he also singled out few players for praise.

Following issues about age falsification with some of the initial players invited, the coach called up 16 foreign-based players to beef up the squad but Areo feels the team will still need to fix a lot of loopholes ahead of the second leg.

“The starting line-up was more of home-based players, while the others were the foreign pros and most of the substitutes were home-based lads too. It was below par, shambolic and easy-to-forget performance from the team. Aside from that, the best players were defenders; Benjamin Tamimu and Chris Nwaeze who later got a red card,” Areo said.

“From what I saw, they will still struggle to get goals and fail to qualify if all is not sorted out before the second leg.”

Another journalist, Andrew Randa, foresees a difficult task ahead of the team.

“They have to overhaul the squad. They were lethargic on Wednesday and didn’t look like a team at all. Salisu Yusuf has to ring the changes, especially in the attack and make sure the midfield is locked because the Guineans ran rings around the team,” Randa said.

An Abuja resident, Joshua Friday also expressed pessimism about the ability of the U-23 Eagles.

“Except from a chance that struck the post before the end of the first half, I didn’t see any other positives from the game. The Guineans were too comfortable and I fear they might hinder us from going to the U-23 AFCON and the Olympics by extension,” Friday told our correspondent.

A win or score-draw for Nigeria in the second leg will guarantee a place at the 2023 U-23 AFCON in Morocco between 24 June and 8 July 2023. The competition will also serve as qualifiers for the men’s football event of the Paris 2024 Olympics.