Nigeria’s Olympic Eagles stuttered in their opening group game in the U23 AFCON, losing to Ivory Coast, but bounced back with a win over Zambia.
On Friday, Imama Amapakabo will lead his team out against South Africa, who are group leaders, in the hope of getting the needed result to continue in the quest for the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games ticket.
However, the Nigerian defence has been leaky, conceding in both games played so far and they must be wary of the threat from South Africa and especially free-kick specialist Teboho Mokoena.
Mokoena it was who struck the dagger in the hearts of Ivorians when he converted free-kick and what is one of the goals of the tournament so far.
The Midfielder revealed he has been learning from the best in the business, modeling his game in line with Lionel Messi’s free-kick technique.
Messi has scored 50 career free kicks, which is a landmark, and Mokoena said he’s been working to improve his technique while emulating the Argentine.
Another of such opportunity on Friday like he got against Ivory Coast and the midfielder is almost certain of tucking it home.
“Being a free-kick taker is one area I have been working really hard on to improve as a player,” Mokoena said.
“Lionel Messi is one of the guys that I look up to. He scored a free-kick a few weeks ago where instead of running towards the ball; he takes a few steps walking before pulling a strike at goal.
“I tried his technique and it has been working really well for me ever since.”
Nigeria and South Africa will clash at the Al Salam in Cairo, both seeking to reach the semi-final of the tournament.