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Why Nigeria failed to qualify for the U-23 AFCON and 2024 Olympic football event

Guinea defeated Nigeria 2-0 on aggregate to ensure Nigeria will miss the 2023 U-23 AFCON and by extension the Paris 2024 male football event. In this article Caretaker highlights the one reason for this failure.


Losing in a match is not a strange outcome but sometimes there are avoidable factors which contribute to defeat’

For Nigeria`s U-23 Africa Cup of Nations qualification loss to Guinea, Caretaker lays it down to the cluelessness on the part of the Salisu Yusuf led coaching crew.

How do we explain that the Nigeria U-23 Eagles technical crew led by Coach Salisu Yusuf made three wholesale player invitations for the third round U-23 AFCON qualifiers vs Guinea.

Ahead of the first leg in Abuja on March 22, Coach Salisu Yusuf invited 30-players invited to camp for the game on March 3, 2023.

That team was dominated by bulk of the lads from the second qualifying round win overĀ Tanzania in October 2022.

Four days later, the coaching crew handed invitation to another set of players for the same 2023 U-23 Africa Cup of Nations qualifier.

On March 18, with just four days to the first leg vs Guinea, Coach Salisu Yusuf led U-23 Eagles coaching crew invited another set of 16 players for the same game.

16 foreign based players who arrived camp with less than 48-hours to kickoff at the Moshood Abiola Staduim Abuja were brought in to replace the players who had previously spent two weeks in camp preparing for the game.

Aside the financial losses of inviting and camping players for close to two weeks, what happens to bonding and understanding of the coaches philosophy. Well maybe there was no game plan so anyone invited only needed to work into camp, pick his favorite jersey number and file out for the match.

If the Coaching crew had clue of its plan for a crucial engagement as the final qualification hurdle for the U-23 AFCON and by extension journey to the Olympic Games, then bulk of the team should have been made of players from the first and second qualifying rounds.

That way, Nigeria would have presented a team and not players who ran around on green jersey with no understanding of each other or a clearly defined playing pattern.

Nigeria is blessed with enough U-23 players who will comfortably defeat Guinea over two legs to qualify for the U-23 AFCON but the Salisu Yusuf led coaching crew had no clear idea of what they wanted, so the prepared Guineans have triumphed.

Let us not talk about the money for call-ups stories surrounding the U-23 Eagles because there are no proves like the cluelessness which clearly caused the embarrassing reality that 1996 Olympic games gold medalists Nigeria will miss the Paris 2024 Olympic games.

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