Ilori — THE Under-20 national soccer team Ngorongoro Heroes arrived safely in Ilorin town, Kwara State south of Nigeria yesterday ahead of their return leg match of the 2013 African Youth Championship qualifiers against the Flying Eagles on Sunday.
The winner will go ahead to play the winner of the Congo/South Africa fixture, for a place at the eight-nation 18th African Youth Championship in Algeria next year March. Heroes' delegation comprises 18 players and eight officials was received at the airport by the Tanzanian High Commissioner to Nigeria, Jones Mndeme and officials of the Nigerian Football Federation (NFF).
Heroes have been booked at Kingstone Grand Suites. According to the coach, Jacob Michelsen's programme, Heroes were set to train yesterday evening and will train again today at the venue which will host the match.
He said all players are in great shape with an exception of Issa Rashid and Aishi Manul, who complained of stomach pain on Thursday but have all now recovered ready for the showdown. The Tanzania's Under-20 side suffered a 2-1 defeat at the hands of their Nigerian counterparts in the first leg match played at the National Stadium about two weeks ago.
The defeat somewhat damaged Tanzania's hopes of going through into the next round as the team now needs to win by two clear goals away in Nigeria in the second leg in two weeks time to make it. However, Michelsen believes his team still has a chance in the return leg.
Michelsen blamed his side's defeat on the absence of key players. The Danish said they were forced to play without five key players, which disrupted the team's balance. And, the team will continue to miss dependable striker Thomas Ulimwengu who failed to join the Heroes from TP Mazembe where he plies his trade after the Congolese club denied him permission ahead of the game.
The Confederation of African Football (CAF) has named Liberian referees for Sunday's 2013 African Youth Championship qualifying match between Nigeria and Tanzania, taking place in Ilorin. Jerry Yekeh will be the Centre Referee, with compatriots Anthony Dopoh, Elisha Johnson and Emmanuel Neewon as 1st Assistant, 2nd Assistant and Reserve Referees respectively. Moucharaf Anjorin from Benin Republic will be the Match Commissioner.
Meanwhile, Nigeria Football Federation (NFF) has directed Flying Eagles technical crew and players to shun complacency in this weekend's match. The General Secretary of the Federation, Barrister Musa Amadu, speaking with the media in Abuja recently, told the team to forget the away victory over Tanzania and do everything possible to pick the ticket to the next stage of the qualifiers, stressing the task ahead is still enormous.
His words: "The philosophy here is not to take any tie as a done deal until the end of the whole legs. I'm sure that a versatile coach such as John Obuh with continental and international experience will not get complacent and take the 2-1 away win as a done deal. "I'm sure he is going to take it as if we lost the game and prepare very well against Tanzania missing some key players.
I'm sure we will take this game very seriously because it is just the beginning of our qualification, considering the tough encounter in the next round," he warned. Barrister Amadu further told the team: "We are committed to ensuring that you qualify and defend the crown in the AYC next year in Algeria."