Host Niger has a determination and ambition to succeed on both sides: a successful organization and the winning of the trophy. The challenge may seem big for a debutant.
However, given the preparation and the quality of the current squad, nothing is impossible. Head Coach, Soumaïla Tiemogo sums up his state of mind: “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. We have to ambitious. Since May 26, 2015 when the decision was taken by the CAF executive committee to award Niger with the hosting rights, a wind of enthusiasm that blew across over the country, and we mobilized ourselves to meet the challenge.
For more than a year, the technical team gained experience and confidence by rubbing against various styles of play. In March 2018, the Young Menas palyed with Algeria in two tests matches ending in defeats; 2-0 and 6-1.
They also participated in the regional WAFU tournament in Lome, Togo last December.
Not to mention regular training camps at the FENIFOOT Technical Center.
For their last stretch leading to this AFCON, Niger held a training camp in Mauritania from 5 to 17 January 2019 to ready themselves. They engaged in two test matches;
– on January 10, with a victory (3-0) against ASC Tidjikja (Goals from Abdourahmane S.Koudou (2 goals) and Moustapha A.Kairou (pen).
– on January 12 at Cheikha O.Boidiya stadium in Nouakchott, victory (2-1) against AS Garde
Back home, the Nigeriens beat fellow finalists Ghana on January 23 courtesy goals from Abdul Malik Moustapha and Issah A. Salou. Their final preparatory match was against Morocco on 26 January 2019 at Seyni Kountché Stadium in Niamey, which they won 1-0. Almoustapha Abdoul Kairou scored the winning goal in the 57th minute.
“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 “.
In addition to the will to succeed in the organization of the tournament, Niger wants to confirm the great progress of its team. It is a good opportunity for the West African country to demonstrate their prowess in Group “A” based in Niamey where they will play their first match against South Africa on 2 February 2019 before playing against Nigeria, on February 5, and Burundi on February 8. For their baptism of fire at the U-20 AFCON, their motto is to have fun, while giving the best of them.