Between the dates of 6th – 16th December 2018, Togo will host the West African Football Union (WAFU) U-20 Cup which is a tournament used as preparation for the West African teams who have qualified for the U-20 African Cup of Nations (AFCON) next year. And of course, the Flying Eagles are one of the five nations who will be heading to Tanzania. The other four are Ghana, Niger, Burkina Faso and Senegal.
Based on the draw which happened in November, Nigeria will be playing in the WAFU Group B against Niger, Ghana and Benin Republic. Their first match is scheduled for Friday, 7th December when they will play the Benin Republic, nicknamed the Young Squirrels. In Group A, Burkina Faso, Togo, Ivory Coast and Senegal will compete amongst themselves.
In the first half of this week, the head coach for the Nigerian U-20 team, Paul Aigbogun, has released the list of 20 players who will play for the Flying Eagles in Togo. Ten players in total were chosen from the Nigeria Professional Football League (NPFL) teams, among them five from Enyimba FC, while nine players were picked from various academies. A single player from the Nigeria National League (NNL) has been called up.
The Flying Eagles have already made it to Lomé, the capital of Togo, where the matches will take place, in two stadiums, the Stade Municipal and Stade JCA. After Benin, Nigeria are scheduled to play the Junior Mena of Niger Republic on the 9th December and then their long-time rivals Ghana, or better known as the Black Satellites, on the 12th December.
After beating Mauritius in the two qualifiers for the AFCON 2019 back in July, Coach Aigbogun will use these games to assess the players and prepare strategies for the February tournament. The seven-time AFCON winners, Flying Eagles will want to make an impact as they missed the last tournament.
Here’s the full list of players.
Matthew Yakubu (Clique Sports Academy); Olawale Gabriel Oremade (Oasis FC)
Ernest Governor (Enyimba FC); Ikouwem Udoh (Enyimba FC); Peter Etim Elu (Prince Kazeem Academy); Aliu Salawudeen (Emmanuel Amunike Academy); Ozornwafor Valentine (Enyimba FC)
Chidiebere Ernest (Loan One FC); Onwuasonaya Uche (Kwara Utd); Solomon Thompson (Port Harcourt City Academy)
Aniekeme Okon (Akwa Utd); Wasiu Alalade (Enyimba FC); Usman Bashir (Plateau Utd); Chisom Osuji (Diamond Academy); Gata Adeshina (Wikki Tourist); Victor Arikpo (Sidos FC); Abubakar Ibrahim (Plateau United); Victor Boniface (Real Sapphire FC); Effiom Maxwell (Enyimba FC); Horlah Oladeji (ABS FC)