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Preview: Niger Take on South Africa in U-20 opener

Hosts Niger to face South Africa in the Total Under-20 Africa Cup of Nations opening match.

Host nation Niger will stroll on the pitch not only on trial for the kind of the show they will offer but off the playing turf as well when they face South Africa in the opening match of the Total Under-20 Africa Cup of Nations.

The Mena have been flying, having participated in the last edition of FIFA U-17 World Cup and also won two recent high profile friendlies against Ghana and Morocco.

They walloped fellow finalist Ghana in Niamey 3-1 last Wednesday before beating Morocco by a solitary goal on Saturday at Seyni Kountché Stadium

A 6-1 loss to against Algeria was the only blemish of their recent friendlies, which shows the technical team lead by coach Soumaila Tiemog has gained experience.

Results for the recent friendly matches count for little Tiemog who has had time to see how his lads will line up on the big occasion this afternoon.

Upfront there could be a possible partnership of Salim Abdourahmane and Seyni Koudou with the exciting Malik Moustapha expected to provide support upfront.

There is a lot of expectation around the weave of passes by Issah Salou who has become known as the king of assists.

At the back, skipper Ibrahim Malou has very able assistants in Abdoul Kader, Rachid Alfari and Ibrahim Mossi to cover Abdoul Kahar.

Niger will be hoping to make a strong statement on the opening day of the tournament to keep the locals interested in the Africa Cup of Nations.

Coach Tiemog has already assured the public that his charges are ready to challenge for the Africa title.

“Our objective for this 21st edition of Total U-20 Afcon is two-fold; First of all, qualify for the World Cup, then win the title,” he said in an interview with Caf online.

“We already have a strong team backbone, with the one that played the Afcon and the U-17 World Cup. We also selected eight players who didn’t play at the World Cup, and that we found it useful to test.”

Niger will have to work hard in Group A against Nigeria, South Africa, and Burundi.

The group B is purely contained of West African teams where the Lion Cubs of Senegal will face the Aiglons of Mali, the Black Satellites of Ghana and the Junior Stallions of Burkina Faso.

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