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Eaglets hopeful as group phase draw holds tomorrow

Flying Eagles, Young Chipolopolo now to play on Saturday

The draw ceremony for this year’s Africa U-17 Cup of Nations will hold tomorrow at the Cercle Nationale d’Armee in Algiers, Algeria.

Five-time world champions, Nigeria, is one of the 12 countries, whose names will go into the pot for the draw, as all participating teams get to know their group phase opponents for the tournament scheduled for April 8 to 30 in Africa’s largest nation by land mass.

All the 12 participating nations are now known: Algeria, Nigeria, Morocco, Senegal, Mali, Burkina Faso, Somalia, South Sudan, Zambia, South Africa, Cameroon and Congo.

The 12 teams will be drawn into three groups of four teams each, with the four top-placed teams qualifying to represent Africa at this year’s FIFA U17 World Cup finals taking place in Peru later this year.

Meanwhile, the international friendly match between Nigeria and Zambia at the U-20 boys’ level will now hold at the Moshood Abiola National Stadium, Abuja on February 4. Initially, both countries’ football-governing bodies had agreed on a two-match tour for January 27 and 30 respectively. But, issues of logistics and the compunction on the Young Chipolopolo to process their entry visas into Egypt for the forthcoming Africa U-20 Cup of Nations before leaving Zambia forced a postponement.

Zambia’s U-20 delegation is still in Lusaka and will now only be able to play one match against the Flying Eagles, before proceeding to Dakar for a game against Senegal on Tuesday next week.

Both Nigeria and Zambia will face a country from the other’s region in Egypt, with Nigeria drawn against Mozambique (alongside host nation Egypt and Senegal) in Group A, while Zambia will face Benin Republic (alongside Tunisia and The Gambia) in Group C. Uganda, Central African Republic, South Sudan and Congo make up Group B.

Seven-time African champions, Nigeria, will fly to Morocco next week for their final round of preparations.

Coach Isah Ladan Bosso’s wards have been in flaming form in recent weeks, lashing a slew of teams in friendly games.

Bosso’s wards were worthy champions of the WAFU B U20 Championship in Niamey, Niger Republic in May 2022, winning all their five matches in the competition.

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