A win over Egypt this evening in Mbour will seal Nigeria’s qualification to the last four of the U23 AFCON in Senegal as well as set the tone for a 2017 AFCON double-header between the two countries in March.
Nigeria are top of Group B after a 3-2 win over Mali and another three points will guarantee them passage to the knockout stage of the tournament, which also doubles as a qualifier for the 2016 Rio Olympics.
“Wins in our first two matches will qualify us for the semi-finals and that is what we are targeting,” declared Nigeria coach Samson Siasia.
But on Sunday Siasia’s team almost marred a bright start to the U23 AFCON when they capitulated in the second half against Mali after going 3-0 up in the first period.
Siasia admitted his Dream Team VI were only lucky to win and move to the top of Group B after Algeria and Egypt played out a 1-1 draw in the first game in Mbour.
Egypt, who are missing key players including Al Ahly midfielder Saleh Gomaa through injury, created the better chances against regional rivals Algeria, but failed to finish off in front of goal.
Both Nigeria and Egypt were to have met in September at the All Africa Games in Congo Brazzaville before the Olympic Pharaohs pulled out so as to focus on the U23 AFCON.