Flying Eagles skipper, Abubakar Ibrahim has opined that the resolve by him and his teammates not to be second best to Mali again was instrumental to their penalty shootout win over their West African neighbours in the semi-final of the 12th African Games in Morocco.
Nigeria U-20 side have lost to Mali during an invitational tournament in Togo in December 2018 and during the CAF U-20 AFCON held in Niger Republic in February this year both on penalties.
But Paul Aigbogun’s men had their pound of flesh in Morocco on Tuesday albeit through another shoot out victory after both played a goalless draw at the end of the 90 minutes and extra time.
Ibrahim in a chat said that they developed mental toughness from their losses to Mali in Togo and Niger Republic and that they were united in their determined zeal to end the temporary reign of Mali over them.
I am excited and happy. The game was very tough because it wasn’t what we expected but we thank God that we were victorious,” Ibrahim told SportingLife.
“I want to state that Nigerians’ prayers really were helpful. We were determined that we won’t return home empty-handed and that we would only challenge for the gold medal and nothing else.
“We have played them in Niger Republic and Togo and we are quite aware of the way they play. It was the reason we approached the game with all determination and very seriously that we are going to win.
“We thank Nigerians for their prayers and we really appreciate them.”
The Niger Tornadoes striker hinted that the Flying Eagles are now eyeing the gold medal to ensure that Nigeria win the African Games topmost medal in the football event for the first time in 41 years.