By Afeez Adebayo
Nigeria’s home-based national team; the CHAN Eagles are set for their biggest challenge in the ongoing African Nations Championship as they file out against the host, Atlas Lions of Morocco. The final game will takes place at the Stade Mohammed V in Casablanca on Sunday, February 4, 2018 and the Atlas Lions will take full advantage of their massive home support which has helped to propel them to the final stage of the competition.
The Eagles defeated Sudan in a tightly contested game courtesy of a lone goal scored by Gabriel Okechukwu in the 16th minute. While their Moroccan counterpart slipped through to the finals by a 3-1 thrilling win over Libya in the Semi-Final.
The Moroccan team has shown their potency in front of goal, scoring 12 goals and conceding only 2 so far in the competition as against the Nigerian team who have scored 7 and also conceded 2 .
Nigeria will go into that game without the services of their fantastic goalkeeper and captain, Ikechukwu Ezenwa, due to an injury he sustained at the early minutes of the game against Sudan and Ifeanyi Ifeanyi who was shown a red card in the same game. However, the team is confident of their 2nd choice goalkeeper, Dele Ajiboye who had a superb game as a substitute for Ezenwa.
Nigeria is going to the final as underdog against a cohesive and free scoring Moroccan side. The Nigerian trio of Stephen Okpotu, Dayo Ojo and Stephen Eze will have to step up their game for a chance for Nigeria to win the Cup. The ‘CHAN Eagles’ defence should be wary of the fantastic Moroccan forward, Ayoub El Kaabi, who has scored 7 of the team’s 12 goals and is topping the tournament goal scorer’s chart with 7 goals.
Both teams will be playing their first ever final in the 5th African Cup of Nations Championship on Sunday. Nigeria’s highest stage in the previous competition was a third place win against Mozambique in 2014, while their opponent, Morocco got to the quarter final stage at 3rd edition of the African Nations Championship hosted by South Africa the same year.