Huesca of Spain midfielder, Kelechi Nwakali has declared that he and his colleagues in the Nigerian Under-23 national team, Olympic Eagles will play like defending champions at this month’s African championship in Egypt.
Nigeria won the last championship at Senegal 2015, then went on to win bronze at Rio 2016 Olympics, such that Nwakali, who is assistant captain of the current squad, believes they will do even better this time out in the Land of The Pharaohs.
He went on to declare that, with total focus, determination and togetherness, the team can achieve their targets, despite the absence of several key players in Imama Amapakabo’s 21- man roster, and their inability to train together for a long period.
Amapakabo included 15 foreign-based players in his squad list for the championship, but he could be without his captain, Azubuike Okechukwu, who plies his trade in Turkey, and SV Mainz 05 OF Germany striker, Taiwo Awoniyi for their opening match against Cote d’Ivoire.
”I believe the team is ready because we have one mindset going to Egypt to pick up the ticket to the Olympics and I believe we can achieve that as a team with hard work.
“The championship starts on Friday, November 8 and our first game is on Saturday, the 9th, so we’ve got a lot of time to train as a team and I believe that we have a lot of foreign-based professionals.
”It is going to be a good game for us if we just put our mindset together, we can achieve it. First of all, Nigeria, we are the defending champions and I believe that only that is enough confidence for us.
”Playing South Africa, Zambia and even the Cote d’Ivoire team, they are good opponents, we are going to respect them and not underrate them but at the same time having it at the back of our minds that we are going there to achieve our aim which is going to the Olympics next year. For me I don’t think there is any pressure.
”Nigeria want to win every game but this is football, at the same time we have to do what we have to do which is one thing at a time – picking the ticket to the Olympics.
“If we have to win the championship, then we are ready to do that because that is why we are going there but at the same time the first objective is to pick up the ticket to the Olympics,” Nwakali told thenff.com.