On paper, Nigeria is not expected to fret when they are confronted by Uganda in football. Nigeria is ranked far ahead of the East African country in all categories of the game, including youth football.

Nigeria is a perennial contestant in the African U-20 Nations Cup, which they have won seven times, three more than their closest rival, Ghana.
In contrast, Uganda has only featured in the competition three times, playing in the final game at the last edition in 2021. But having tasted the FIFA U-20 World Cup, which a semifinal placing guarantees, the Ugandans want to get there again. And to do that, they must beat Nigeria on Friday.

Uganda qualified for the quarterfinals by drawing with South Sudan in their last group game to finish on top of Group B table, despite finishing on the same five points with Congo. That feat gave them the ticket to face Nigeria on Friday at the Cairo International Stadium.

Looking forward to an interesting game against the Flying Eagles, Uganda’s Coach, Jackson Mayanja said his side has been preparing hard for the confrontation with the Flying Eagles.

He told cafonline.com after the draw with South Sudan, “this tournament is a bit tricky, but this is the game we had to get a result because I also rested my key players because I trust every player.

“Since that we have qualified, now we are planning for the next one so that we can qualify to the next stage.”

While Mayanja was fulfilling his post match media duties, the drawing of lots was holding in Cairo, the former El Masry man wasn’t too concerned about the draw.

“There’s nothing much I can say about the drawing of lots. I’m not a coach who has pressure,” he said.

“This is what I was looking at whether I am first or second but I have qualified, that is the most important.

“My goal here in this tournament is to take this team to the World Cup.

“That’s why I give a chance to every player of mine to express himself, to express talent.”

Mayanja believes that the Hippos’ brilliant run at the last edition would spur the current group to want to surpass that feat. He is, however, cautious, knowing that no two competitions are the same.

“The last edition is history, and that team did well, and we have only two players in the team from 2021, that’s the captain Mugulusi and Alpha, so this is a different team, but we hope that we have prepared well to do the same.

“My objective is to take this team to the World Cup and if I can achieve that then we can see what happens next but my objective in this tournament is to qualify Uganda to the World Cup.”

Meanwhile, the Flying Eagles will be without captain Daniel Bamaiyi in the game against the Hippos.

Bamaiyi was booked for the second time in the competition in Flying Eagles’ 2-0 victory over Mozambique on Saturday.

The centre-back is an important figure in the team and will definitely be missed against the Ugandans

Head coach, Ladan Bosso, will have to reshuffle his defence for the game and may consider drafting in Solomon Agbalaka as his replacement.

The winner of the contest aside from securing a place in the semi-finals will also compete at the 2023 FIFA U-20 World Cup Indonesia, later in the year.

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