Nigeria Flying Eagles and defending champions of the African Youth Championship will begin its title defence this weekend in Algeria. They won the trophy in South Africa in 2011.
The biennial championship will kick off today with the host Algeria taking on Benin Republic in the first match of the tournament. However, the route to the Maghreb for the John Obuh tutored side has been that of ups and downs. Following their qualification for the youth championship late last year, the team played some friendly matches to tune up and be on top of their game. The team has so far played five games, losing three and drawing two.
These score lines have left sports analysts fidgety with fingers crossed as to what lies ahead in the African Youth Championship. But head coach of the Flying Eagles, John Obuh discountenancing fears said he believes his team is ready to defend the title. He said, “the results of our test games were not what we expected, but the overall performance of the boys has re-assured us we will be the team to beat in Algeria.”
He assured that his team will be up to the task at the AYC. Captain of the team, Abduljaleel Ajagun, who was part of the squad that lifted the trophy in South Africa on May 1, 2011 also assured of his team-mates’ readiness. “After qualification for the competition, I think there is nothing that will stop us from going all out to do our nation proud in Algeria.” Coach John Obuh concludes that, “I believe in this team.
We have worked very hard and we will continue to work even harder to ensure the best for Nigeria,” he re-affirmed. Nigeria Football Federation scribe, Musa Ahmadu said the football federation is confident the team will deliver, “I have confidence that we should be able to defend the cup in Algeria”, he asserted. The Flying Eagles are drawn in group B with Mali, DR Congo and Gabon.