Amapakabo reacts as two new players join Nigeria U23 team

Nigerian Football News By: Ikponmwosa Umweni | 12/11/2019

Coach Imama Amapakabo has reacted as two new players of captain Azubuike Okechukwu and star forward Taiwo Awoniyi joined Nigeria U23 team in Egypt for Tuesday’s make-or-break 2019 Africa Cup of Nations against Zambia at Al-Salam Stadium.

The Olympic Eagles will battle the Southern African country in their second group match at the Al Salam Stadium on Tuesday, after suffering a 1-0 loss to Cote d’Ivoire in the Group B opener last Saturday.

İstanbul Başakşehir midfielder Azubuike and Liverpool on loan star Awoniyi were released late by their clubs due to involvement in the Turkish Super Lig and Bundesliga, respectively and Amapakabo is confident their arrival will spur his squad to better performance against the Zambians.

"I am happy we now have Awoniyi and our captain, Azubuike. They are integral to the team and were influential in our qualifying matches. We will throw everything into the game against Zambia because we have left ourselves no choice at this point.

"I believe we have the team to not only overcome Zambia but go all the way in the tournament. We stumbled against the Ivorians but we have learned from that and we now look forward to rescuing our campaign against the Zambians and South Africans.”

Zambia, on their part, have also received two boosts with the imminent arrival of KV Oostende forward Fashion Sakala and RB Salzburg's Patson Daka, who has set the Austrian Bundesliga alight with 12 goals in 13 matches this season.

Nigeria take on Zambia at the Al Salam Stadium in Cairo on Tuesday in a game they must pick up the maximum points to return to contention for a place in the semi-finals of the competition, ahead of their clash with South Africa on Tuesday.

Only the top three finishers at the U23 AFCON will qualify to fly Africa’s flag at the Men’s Olympic Football Tournament in Tokyo, Japan next year.