By James Agberebi:
Flying Eagles coach Emmanuel Amuneke has expressed confidence that his side will get a favourable result in the first leg of the 2017 Africa U-20 qualifier against Burundi.
The first leg between the Nigeria U-20s and Burundi comes up on Saturday at the Prince Louis Rwagasore Stadium in Bujumbura.
The Flying Eagles had a bye into the second round, while Burundi advanced after DR Congo withdrew.
In a chat with cafonline, Amuneke stated that the Flying Eagles are aware of the importance of the game and are ready to do everything possible to win.
“We are preparing, and have been working pretty hard for the match against Burundi,” Amuneke said.
“They (players) know what is expected of them and collectively as a team, we are looking forward to the match with optimism. Individually and collectively, we are doing everything in order to be on the same page and when we get to Burundi (Bujumbura), we are going to give a very good account of ourselves as a team.”
The former Golden Eaglets coach said his players have been put through the best of preparations in order to counter any form of obstacle in the game.
“I’m not under any pressure but our business now is qualification for the U-20 AFCON in Zambia. I’m not going to discuss what I know about Burundi here but what I know is that we are going to face a formidable team; and I’m confident we would be ready to play them in their home and when they come here for the return match.
“Though there are factors like high altitude as well as the timing of the match to deal with, we are preparing our players psychologically to be ready for these challenges.”
Confirming Victor Osimhen's availability for the game, Amuneke played down talk about his team depending solely on the young forward, positing that there are other outstanding players in the team who can make things happen.
“Victor (Osimhen) is fine and has resumed training. This team is not only about Osimhen. We are not only looking up to Osimhen against Burundi. If he’s not available, there would be somebody to take his place," former Super Eagles star Amuneke added.
“I don’t depend on only one or two players. We are building a team that can play collectively. Osimhen is important to our team but we have other important players in the team as well.”
Other fixtures in the U-20 AFCON qualifier will see Senegal go away to face Tunisia in Oued Elil, whilst Ghana and Mali will be guests to Ethiopia and Mauritania in Addis Ababa and Nouakchott respectively.
The return legs of the qualifiers will take place on the weekend of 10-12 June 2016.
The winners will advance to the final round of the qualifiers that will produce the seven teams to join hosts Zambia for the final tournament from 26 February to 12 March 2017.