Satellites must beat Nigeria… In today’s semi-final tie

Musa Mohammed – Flying EaglesONE of the fiercest ties in youth football will be waged this evening when Ghana’s Black Satellites cross swords with their Nigerian arch rivals – the Flying Eagles, in the semi-final stage of the CAF Africa Youth Championships slated for the Stade Léopold Sédar Senghor in Senegal.

It is one gut-wrenching contest many followers of the continental game have been waiting for – though they would have found a clash in the grand finale more irresistible.

The Satellites are chasing their fourth silverware in the history of the campaign, but their more illustrious opponents seek for a seventh Holy Grail.

Already, the two opponents have met two times in Accra friendlies ahead of the tournament with the Eagles getter the better of the Ghanaians. First, it was a grueling 2-2 draw but the Nigerians proved their mettle winning the second game 2-0.

That is the psychological strength with which the Eagles hope to carry into the evening’s adventure which is expected to kick off at 5pm.

Central defender Abdulganiyu Saheed, who had a good game in the team’s two-all draw against Cote d’Ivoire is envisaging a tough clash today, but believes his side are favourites.

“We have come too far to let it slip now. Down to the last man, we really want to win this trophy and feel we can beat Ghana,” he told journalists.

Though the Eagles have a poignant forwardline – having banged home nine goals, they have let in four – statistics that suggest they could be vulnerable at the back when put to the test.

Ghana roared off its campaign in Group B on an imposing note after beating South Africa and Zambia 2-0 and 2-1 respectively before slumping 0-1 to Mali to finish second in the group. The Nigerians, on the other hand, started their mission in Group A with a thumping 3-1 win over host nation Senegal and proceeded to hammer Congo 4-1 before being held by Cote d’Ivoire to top the group.

Today’s assignment will be more of wits, guts and utilisation of chances but whatever it is, Satellites’ coach Sellas Tetteh, believes his boys are fully loaded for the challenge.

“We have the hunger and we are determined to have a go at our old friends Nigeria. The two are football-loving countries and we want to play good football.

“However, we are well motivated and committed and we are going to do everything we can to win it,” he maintained.

Hosts Senegal and Group B winners Mali clash off in the other semi final tie tomorrow.

All four semi-final teams have already qualified for the FIFA World Youth Championships to be staged in New Zealand in May.

By John Vigah

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