Awoniyi hopes for another victory in Senegal
Taiwo Awoniyi returns to Senegal for the Caf Under-23 Africa Cup of Nations with so much hope, eight months after playing a role in helping Nigeria win the continent’s under-20 championship, reports supersport.com.
Awoniyi said he feels a deja vu kind of hunch as he joined Samson Siasia and his Nigerian under-23 teammates in The Gambia ahead of their trip to Senegal, where they are expected to play in the city of M’Bour in Group B alongside Egypt, Algeria and Mali.
“Yes Senegal reminds me of a lot,” began the striker, who is on loan from Liverpool to FSV Frankfurt. “I am thankful to God for this opportunity to be part of the squad going for this competition.”
Awoniyi scored three goals at the African Under-20 Championship in March. He netted the opening two goals in their 3-1 win over Senegal and followed up with another goal against Congo in which Nigeria won 4-1.
The Nigerian under-20s finished as champions after defeating hosts Senegal 1-0 through Bernard Bulbwa’s superb goal.
The 18-year-old forward hopes that the Nigerian under-23s will get off the ground running in Senegal and win a spot to qualify for the 2016 Olympics in Rio De Jainero, Brazil.
But the teenage striker does not want the spotlight to focus on him as he wants to see Siasia’s men perform well at the tournament.
“I feel good and humble to be in the team. There are many good players here (in The Gambian camp). I pray that we do well and win the Olympic ticket, which is very important. The team is not just about one player, but I want to play my role,” he told supersport.com yesterday.
It is not the first time that Awoniyi will feature for Nigeria’s under-23s as he scored twice to help his country defeat Zambia 2-1 in a 2015 All Africa Games qualifying match in Lusaka in April.
Nigeria is expected to stay at the Fram Palm Beach Hotel located in the resort of Saly Portudal in M’bour ahead of the tournament, which holds from November 29 to 12 December in Senegal.
The hotel will also host the Malian U-23 side, who incidentally are drawn against Nigeria in the same group that also has Egypt and Algeria.
Nigeria will begin their campaign on Sunday against Mali at the Caroline Faye Stadium, in Mbour.
They will also battle Egypt on December 2 in Mbour and three days later play their final Group B match against Algeria in Dakar.