National U-23 team coach, Samson Siasia, has admitted Nigeria are in the group of death after they were drawn alongside champions Ghana, Egypt and Senegal in Group B of the men’s football event at the 2015 All Africa Games holding in Brazzaville, Congo in September.
Group A has hosts Congo, Sudan, Zimbabwe and Burkina Faso.
Nigeria have only won the tournament once when they hosted the Games in 1973, while Egypt have been champions twice – in 1987 and 1995. Nigeria overcame Gabon and Zambia to book a place at this edition, while Egypt easily dumped Kenya and Burundi out of the race.
Ghana won it for the first time at the 2011 final in Mozambique when they beat South Africa via penalties. The Black Meteors defeated Mozambique to qualify for Brazzaville.
Senegal, who finished fourth at the 2011 edition after losing to Cameroon in the third-place match, qualified for the current edition by beating Mali on away goals.
“This is a group of death. It is a difficult group. Every team in this group has the potential to win the All Africa Games,” Siasia said.
“Every game in this group will be difficult. But we will approach each one like a final. I can assure you that anyone who makes it out of this group is top favourite to win the gold.”
The Congo team, managed by Frenchman Claude le Roy, are favourites in Group A. They qualified automatically as hosts, but they are also former champions being the first to win the tournament when they hosted 50 years ago.
Les Diables Nors are currently preparing to take on Nigeria in an African Championship qualifier in Port Harcourt, Rivers State, on Sunday.
Sudan, who are making a first appearance in the history of the eight-team tournament, eliminated Ethiopia and South Africa to qualify, while Zimbabwe edged Cameroon and Burkina Faso surprised Ivory Coast.
The Super Falcons have a relatively easier group in the women’s category as they appear as favourites in Group A, which consists of hosts Congo, Tanzania and Ivory Coast.
Nigeria are two-time champions at this level after winning the maiden edition at Abuja 2003 and in 2007 in Algeria.
Egypt, who are making their debut in the women’s event, will contend with tough oppositions as they face champions Cameroon, South Africa and Ghana in Group B.
The Lionesses of Cameroon and Ghana’s Black Queens were finalists at the last edition, while South Africa were two-time silver medallists.
Cameroon, Ghana and South Africa, are familiar foes after being drawn in the same group during the 9th African Women’s Championship in Namibia in 2014.