Coach of hosts Senegal, Joseph Koto, cannot wait to battle Nigeria in the final of the U-20 African Youth Championship on Sunday in Dakar.
The Nigerians are the only team to have beaten the junior Teranga Lions in the tournament – a 3-1 defeat that came in the opening game. It was Senegal’s first ever game in the history of the competition which the Flying Eagles have won a record six times.
A draw and two wins later, Koto wants see whether the Nigerians deserved their win over his team.
Speaking after the Lion cubs beat the impressive Mali 2-1 in the semi-finals on Wednesday, the former Teranga Lions boss praised his players and asserted that the defensive frailties ruthlessly exploited by Nigeria have now been fixed.
“The match was 50-50 and my players did very well to win. Football is not a science and I congratulate my team for a good job.” Koto said in his reaction to the Mali game.
“Our defence improved today compared to the previous where they fumbled under pressure. Also, our goalkeeper, Ibrahim Sy had a good day but he was largely assisted by the impregnable backline.
“I’m happy to play Nigeria again in the final and this is an opportunity to judge whether they are better than us. If they beat us again, then I will congratulate them.”
Despite being rated as one of Africa’s top footballing nations, Senegal have never won a football competition on the continent and Koto feels this is about the time to cross the Rubicon. He has called on his countrymen to flood the Stade Leopold Sedar Senghor to support the team to victory.
“Senegal needs an African title and I’m urging all the fans to come to the stadium on Sunday (March 22) to support the boys to victory.”
His skipper Roger Gomis has also promised fireworks against the Manu Garba-led Flying Eagles.
“We did what the coach told us to do and this resulted in the victory (over Mali). We wanted to win the game and we succeeded. We were not under any form of pressure. The fans will see a different team for the final on Sunday because we are more than motivated to win the ultimate.” Gomis said.
Ghana will play a third/fourth place match before the final.
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