The match is scheduled to take place in Jeddah on 22nd of January 2019. This friendly is going to prepare the Flying Eagles for the upcoming U-20 AFCON (African Cup Of Nations) that is going to take place next month in Niger Republic.
This year, the African Cup of Nations will be hosted in Niger. The Nigerian Flying Eagles will be in Group A. Their first match will be against Niger, the host nation. After that, they will face Burundi and South Africa in the same group. The seven-time champions are getting ready to leave Nigeria this weekend to Jeddah for the friendly match with Saudi Arabia’s national team. This was confirmed by Aliyu Ibrahim Lawal, the team administrator.
The match against Saudi Arabia will remind everyone of the 1989 FIFA U-20 opening match. In the world cup for that year, the Flying Eagles were defeated by the Saudis 2-1. This was on the 16th of February 1989 inside the King Fahd International Stadium. Hopefully, the friendly match with Saudi, this month, will give the Flying Eagles an opportunity to reclaim the honor they lost in 1989 (not like it would matter anyway).
Al Suraiti was the first to score in that match just 16 minutes after the game. During the second half, Mutiu Adepoju scored the goal that secured their win while Nigeria’s Christopher Ohenhen scored the single goal that got the flying eagles three points. This single goal was what secured Nigeria’s place in the tournament. They eventually became runner ups at the end of the tournament when they lost 0-2 to Portugal. The Flying Eagles have promised to bring the cup home this year.
AFCON is sometimes referred to as Total Africa Cup of nations or CAN. It is the leading international association competition in African football. Sanctioned by the Confederation of African Football, AFCON was first hosted in the year 1957. Those who qualify for the FIFA Confederation Cup were allowed to participate in the competition.
In 1957, when it was hosted for the first time, only Ethiopia, Egypt and Sudan participated. South Africa qualified initially but were disqualified because of the government’s apartheid policies. Since then, the tournament has grown significantly. Countries interested in participating must go through a qualifying tournament first.
For each tournament, sixteen teams are divided into four groups. The top two teams will keep advancing until they get to the knockout stage. This continued for many years until July 2017 when the number of teams was increased to 24 instead of 16. So far, Egypt is the most successful team in the history of AFCON.