The nation’s under 23 football team popularly referred to as the Dream Team, Wednesday in Tunis lost the first leg of their two legged AFCON Under 23 Nations cup qualifier 2-0 to their Libyan counterparts.
This result puts the team in a dicey situation as they need to score three goals more than their opponents in the return leg fixture on Monday 25th in Asaba, Delta State to qualify for the next stage of the competition.
During the match, the young Libyans shot into the lead in the first 45 minutes and held tenaciously to their lead as the Dream Team concentrated mainly on midfield play while finding it difficult to penetrate into the vital arrears of their opponents.
As if the day was meant to be a day of lamentation for the Imama Amapakabo led team, Goalkeeper Adamu Abubakar was given the marching orders after bagging a red card for handling the ball outside his area.
His sending off dampened the moral of the Nigerian side while the Libyans saw his ouster as a morale booster as they increased the tempo of their game which yielded result as they grabbed the second goal in the 69th minute.
Not even the introduction of Chidera Ezeh in place of Muyiwa Olabiran could turn the table as the Libyans held their ground to the end of the match.
Taiwo Awoniyi’s 53rd minute chance was the closest the Dream came to salvaging the situation but it was wasted.
The team will now need to dig deep to post a five star performance when they file out for the second leg on Monday 25th March at the Stephen Keshi Stadium, Asaba.
Prior to the battle of Tunis, Çaykur Rizespor of Turkey and Nigeria U-23 team captain, Azubuike Okechukwu had declared that he and his teammates are in super form and not under any form of pressure.
Azubuike, who was part of the team that made it to the Rio Olympics in 2016, added that his wealth of experience will come handy.
“We will have to play every game like it’s a final because that is the mentality we need to qualify” he had said in a chat with brila.net
Now that the first leg has come and gone with the result in Libya’s favour, Azubuike and his teammates will have to review their strategy if they wish to move to the next stage of qualification.
Source: IndependentFollow us on social media