Ahead of Sunday’s Championship For African Nations CHAN qualifying match between Togo and Nigeria, the National U23 coach Imama Amapakabor has expressed his confidence that his side will qualify for the tournament.
Imama who was speaking exclusively to DiegwuSports from the teams Abuja training camp also backed the Nigeria Football Federation’s decision to use the U23 National team for the CHAN qualifier. According to the coach, the team will justify the faith put in them.
“This is a step in the right direction, I believe that before the decision was taken, the Federation would have seen that the team is capable of delivering the ticket. The U23 had a good outing against Sudan and what better way to prepare for the U23 AFCON than this.
“It’s now up to the boys to raise their game, layout their hearts and repay the faith put in them by the Federation. If we play to the best of our abilities over the two legs, I am confident we would qualify” Imama told DiegwuSports
Following the U23’s impressive 5-1 aggregate defeat of Sudan in the U23 AFCON qualifier, the NFF that the U23 squad, without the overseas –based professionals but with a number of home –based Trojans added, prosecute the CHAN qualifying fixture.
The 1st leg will be played on Sunday at the Stade de Kegue in Lome at 4pm.
Imama who has previously won the NPFL with Rangers International in 2016 believes that the quality of the NPFL players is on the rise. He believes it’s only a matter of time before they start making it big European clubs and the national team.
‘The quality in the domestic league is amazing. During the U23 AFCON qualifiers we saw that most of the team was made up of home based players. It shows the difference is not much. I also think we are making much progress in terms of the quality coming out of the league. It’s just a matter of time before they [home based players] start making the big teams in Europe and indeed the national team.’
The U23 AFCON will take place I November in Egypt and will serve as the Olympic qualifiers for Africa. However, Nigeria will be without it’s foreign based players because the tournament doesn’t fall during the FIFA window but Imama is confident his team will qualify for the Olympics.
“We were already aware that the final Olympic qualifying tournament will be played during a non-FIFA window so we have been preparing for it. I am also very confident that the home-based players will deliver.
‘Already we are already camping and then the CHAN qualifiers also presents a good test for us. We will be ready and indeed pick up a ticket for the Olympics.’