Starting Tuesday December the 13th, Nigeria will host Africa as the 2016 Beach Soccer Cup of Nations kicks-off in Lagos. Hosts Nigeria will look to wrestle the crown from African champions Madagascar and pick a ticket for the 2017 Beach Soccer World Cup to be held in Barbados.
The competition will start on the 13th of November through to the 18th as the best seven Beach Soccer teams on the continent slug it out with hosts Nigeria for the African title.
Coach Audu Adamu Ejors squad have been in residential camping in Badagry as they prepare to mount a challenge for the Africa crown.
Beach Soccer poster boy Abu Azeez has come out of international retirement to help the squad while regular faces like Victor Tale, Emmanuel Owheferia, Bartholomew Ibenegbu and the veteran Ogbonnaya Okemmiri.
The Sand Eagles are in Group A of the competition alongside Ghana, Egypt and old nemesis the Ivory Coast [below] in what is regarded as the toughest group.
Group B has defending champions Madagascar, Libya, Morocco and Senegal who will jostle for the top spot and a place at the World Cup in the Bahamas in 2016.
Group stage match schedule for the 2016 Beach Soccer African Cup of Nations.
Ghana v Ivory Coast
Nigeria v Egypt
Egypt v Ghana
Nigeria v Ivory Coast
Egypt v Ivory Coast
Nigeria v Ghana
Madagascar v Libya
Morocco v Senegal
Libya v Morocco
Madagascar v Senegal
Libya v Senegal
Morocco v Madagascar
Current champions Madagascar [above] are early favorites even though three-time champions Senegal aren’t far away with the Ivory Coast also in the running for the title.
Madagascar dethroned Senegal at the last edition in Seychelles defeating the Beach Lions after extra time as they could only muster a 1-1 draw after regulation time.
Nigeria smashed the Ivory Coast 9-1 in the third place classification game but it wasn’t enough to see the team through to the World Cup. Super Sand Eagles goal poacher Abu Azeez [below} believes Nigeria has all it takes to win the title and a slot at the 2017 Beach Soccer World Cup.
“It won’t be easy at all because a lot of these teams are in form now. Madagascar, Ivory Coast, Senegal are all tops sides. In fact, all the teams that are here are capable of lifting the trophy,”he told supersport.com when asked about Nigeria’s chances.
“We are working hard t make sure we make Nigerians proud on our home soil. This is a huge opportunity for us in front of our home fans and we will do our best to make sure we make them proud.
“I implore all our fans to come out and support the team. I want them to get behind the team and cheer us to victory,”he added.
Players in Sand Eagles’ camp: Goalkeepers Godwin Anyalogu (Rivers United FC), Godwin Tale (FC Lokoja), Nurudeen Mudashiru (Kada Stars) and Majid Danladi Mohammed (Kwande Academy; defenders Lukman Ibrahim (Kada Stars), Ogbonnaya Okemiri (Abia Warriors), Taiwo Adams (Owibeseb FC), Godspower Igudia (Akwa United), Victor Tale (Bassa United) and Emmanuel Owheferia (Owibeseb FC) and; forwards Bartholomew Ibenegbu (Enyimba FC), Emeka Ogbonna (Leads United), Suleiman Ogodo (FC IfeanyiUbah), Abu Azeez (Enyimba FC), Kunle Olukotun (Shooting Stars), SundayAlasco (Kada Stars), Abubakar Isah (Anambra BS), Badmus Babatunde (Owibeseb FC) and Clement Fayowole (Leads United)