The Agege Stadium in Lagos will yet again be the centre of attraction on Saturday when Flying Eagles of Nigeria take on the Junior Mourabitounes of Mauritania in the decisive final round second leg tie for a ticket to next year’s finals.
Mauritania has emerged one of the surprise packets in the qualifiers after dispatching Guinea and Morocco in previous rounds, and only last weekend secured a 1-1 draw against highly rated Nigeria, the most successful team in the youth category with seven titles.
“The Mauritanians are a very good side and they really gave a good account of themselves during the first leg, but I’m confident the Flying Eagles will qualify for the championship in Niger,” Nigeria trainer Paul Aigbogun, told CAFOnline.com
The match referees are Mmahmoud Zakaria Mohamed (Egy), Ahmed Taha Hossam (Egy), Hany Abdelfattah Mahmoud Elsnadidy (Egy)
Both teams shared the spoils in Nouakchott when the Flying Eagles saw their eighth minute lead through Abubakar Ibrahim being cancelled barely three minutes later by Mohamed Salem.
As such Aigbogun is not oblivious about the task ahead of his wards against the visitors and bearing in mind how Nigeria missed out on the last championship held in Zambia on the away goal rule after a shocking 4-3 loss to Sudan in Lagos tied both legs 5-5.
“We don’t want to be worried about the past,” affirmed the vastly experienced Aigbogun who had stints with clubs in Wales USA, England and South Africa.
“The most important thing for us on Saturday is to win our match in Lagos and qualify for Niger. The first leg has given us a good idea about what we have to do and we are going to deploy our tactics to that effect. We just need to do the right things on Saturday especially by putting up our best efforts and we will be through to Niger.”
Elsewhere, holders Zambia face a tough trip to Ngozi as guests of Burundi on the wings of a lone goal win from the first leg. Further worry for the Zambians is the unavailability of forward Lameck Banda, scorer of the winner in the reverse in Lusaka last week, who is suspended.
South Africa are in a similar fate as they travel to Lilongwe to face Malawi, just as Cameroon who play Mali in Bamako.
The winners after the weekend second leg matches join host Niger for the final tournament scheduled for 2-17 February 2019.
The last slot between Ghana and Benin will be decided in August.
Nigeria vs Mauritania (1-1)
Gabon vs Burkina Faso (1-3)
Malawi vs South Africa (0-0)
Senegal vs Congo (2-2)
Sunday, 22 July 2018
Burundi vs Zambia (0-1)
Mali vs Cameroon (1-1)