Nigeria‘s Olympic Eagles who take on their Ivorian counterparts in the opener of the U-23 Nations cup on Saturday, will not be having a walk in park.
Indications to this effect emerged Wednesday as the Ivorian team’s acting head Coach Haïdara Soualiho x-rayed his preparation for the tournament concluding that the only way to forget the challenges is to ensure that the team finishes in the top three.
Haidara revealed that he received minimal cooperation from several European clubs who delayed in releasing their players for the tournament.
“Some clubs have made the promise to release players just two days before the start of the competition.
Others say they will have to wait until November 9th. In this case it is very hard to be well prepared for the Cup of Nations,” said the tactician whose squad put up a five day camp in El Jadida, Morocco.
Despite the challenge in assembling a full squad in time, the young Elephants are not losing their sight on the ultimate target, qualifying for the Olympics.
Both the technical crew and the players believe the only way out is to fight every opponent to the finish.
“Our minimum target is to finish within the top three so that we qualify for the Olympics in 2020. Since 2008 in Beijing, China, our country has not experienced the joy of participating in this global tournament and we are keen to be there this time,” says Chester Diallo, the captain of the Ivorian Under-23 team.
The Ivorians last participated in the championship in the 2011 edition but failed to go past the group stage.