Ngorongoro Heroes set up a mouthwatering second round tie against the Flying Eagles after beating Kenya 4-3 on penalties in their first round, return leg match of the 2015 Orange African Youth Championship qualifiers on Sunday.
While appreciating his team’s effort that saw them dump out neighbouring Kenya, Simkoko warned that Nigeria pose a different challenge to Kenya, saying nothing will come easy for the Heroes when they face the Flying Eagles in the final qualifying round of the continental qualifiers next month.
“It is going to be a great test for us, we all know that Nigeria have a strong team that boast a lot of experience playing in the competition, but we've got to rise to the occasion,” said Simkoko.
The Heroes coach believes good and thorough preparation would help his side overcome what looks a daunting test and realise the nation’s dream of reaching the 2015 Africa Youth Championship final slated for Senegal.
“We’re going to start preparations now … we need to work hard and make sure we’re ready for the clash. We must set our focus on eliminating Nigeria as we want to reach the finals,” said Simkoko.
He said the country’s football governing body, TFF, are prepared to put Ngorongoro Heroes under intensive training and organise a few build-up matches to test the team’s strength ahead of the Nigeria duel.
Simkoko also underscored the importance of preparing his youngsters mentally for what promises to be a tough encounter, saying psychological readiness would help boost the team’s chances of overcoming the sternest of tests.
Earlier this month, former Nigeria international, Rafiu Yusuf, was sent to Kenya to watch the first leg between Kenya and Ngorongoro Heroes played at the Machakos County Stadium.
Yusuf, who is a staff of the Nigeria Football Federation’s technical department, was in the crowd as the Heroes played out a goalless draw against their hosts.
The Nigerian, who also carried out similar assignments on the team’s possible opponents leading up to last year’s AYC in Algeria, was expected to make available his findings to coach Manu Garba and his technical crew ahead of the second round tie.
The finals will take place from March 8-22, 2015 in Senegal with the semi-finalists qualifying to represent Africa at the 2015 FIFA U-20 World Cup in New Zealand.