Nigeria U23 out ‘to reclaim glory against Libya U23, says Taiwo Awoniyi

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The youth team are set for a crucial game at the Stephen Keshi Stadium on Monday evening in a bid to advance to the next round of U23 Afcon qualifiers

Nigeria U23 forward Taiwo Awoniyi has sent warning shots to Libya U23 team ahead of Monday's must-win qualifying match in Asaba.

Last Wednesday, the Dream Team VII suffered a 2-0 defeat in the first leg of the U23 Africa Cup of Nations qualifiers in Tunis and are now in danger of missing out of the continental tournament and the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.

Imam Amapakabo’s side face an uphill challenge to overturn the deficit at the Stephen Keshi Stadium on Monday but the 21-year-old is upbeat the team can achieve their mission with a win for the country.

“I don't have to think, I have to believe that we have to it because for me, Nigerians put a lot of trust in the squad because of the kind of players that are in the team but unfortunately we lost in Tunis,” Awoniyi told the NFF.

“This is football, we have to accept the fact that we did not succeed in Tunis and we have another chance at our hand, this is the chance we have to fight for because we have another 90 minutes to reclaim the glory not only for ourselves but our family because when we fail, it's for the whole country.

“We have to need to have this at the back of our mind because the coach has been so wonderful to everyone. He has treated everyone like family and we have to respect back in fighting back with our last breathe on the pitch and hopefully, we have the victory.”

After a torrid spell with Gent in the first half of the 2018-19 season, Awoniyi rediscovered his goalscoring touch on his return to Royal Excel Mouscron and he is in dazzling form in the Belgian top-flight with seven goals in nine matches so far.

Aside from the Liverpool loanee, the U23 team also boasts of several foreign-based players including Rizespor’s Okechuwkwu Azubuike and Porto’s Kelechi Nwakali, however, the 2013 Fifa U17 World Cup winner believes they need more than talents to get the much-needed result against the north Africans.

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“Football is not just about talents, it's about tactics and and it has alot of things put together,” he added.

“You can't just have the talents and think you'll succeed. We have to believe no one is there yet and everyone is here to survive.

“Most of us came from different places but we have to know that it is green-white-green and we're putting on these colours not only because of the talents in us but for our family which means we have to stay together, fight together as a team and not as an individual player.”