Nigeria’s Flying Eagles will battle with Gambia’s Young Scorpions at the Cairo International Stadium on Monday for a place in the final of the 2023 CAF U-20 Africa Cup of Nations.
It is a classical David and Goliath clash between the most successful youth team in Africa and the other from one of the smallest nations on the continent.
The Flying Eagles are not only seven-time winners of the competition, but they have also reached the final of the FIFA U20 World Cup twice. And they will start as a slight favourite against a Gambian team making only their sixth appearance at the U20 AFCON.
The Flying Eagles are in the semifinals of the U20 AFCON for a record-extending 15th time.Ladan Bosso’s boys reached this stage after finishing runners-up in Group A and defeating Uganda U20 by the slimmest of margins in the quarterfinals.
The Gambians, though, will not be pushovers.
The Young Scorpions have been one of the best teams in Egypt, winning all four matches so far.
They have the best defence, having not conceded a goal, and the best attack after smashing nine goals past their opponents, including the five they got past South Sudan in the quarterfinals.
Both teams have already qualified for the 2023 FIFA U20 World Cup in Indonesia, but a win will get either team closer to lifting the prestigious AFCON Cup.
Nigeria’s first meeting with the Young Scorpions was in the semifinals of the 2007 edition when a 1-0 victory was all the Flying Eagles needed to make it to the final. Congo beat Nigeria to that title to claim their first honour.
Monday’s faceoff will be the first meeting between the two sides in 12 years when Nigeria beat the Gambia in Bidvest Stadium Johannesburg thanks to goals from Olanrewaju Kayode and Ramon Azeez.
The Flying Eagles dumped their West African neighbours out of the group stage and went all the way to lift their sixth title after defeating Cameroon in the final.
Will Nigeria make it three wins on the trot over the Young Scorpions, or will the Gambians finally get one over their illustrious opponent