Super Eagles B team goalkeeper Dele Ajiboye has told Naijafootballplus.com in Morocco that he would appreciate winning the African Nations Championship (CHAN) title more than the FIFA U17 World Cup title.
The Plateau United goalkeeper was part of the victorious 2007 FIFA World Cup team in Korea Republic, Nigeria defeated Spain 3-0 on penalties after they played goalless in regulation time. Ajiboye was the hero of the team as he saved two Spanish spot-kicks.
“CHAN will be my biggest title, even though I have won the FIFA U17 World Cup. CHAN is an elite tournament in Africa and this is the first time Nigeria would make it to the final of the championship. We’ll be making history if we win on Sunday and that makes it special and biggest in my career,” said Ajiboye to Naijafootballplus.com.
Ajiboye made his CHAN debut against Sudan in Marrakesh when Ikechukwu Ezenwa collided with his teammate Stephen Eze and got injured in the process. The former Shooting Stars goalkeeper kept Nigeria in the game with several saves made by him.
“I wasn’t ready for the game because I never thought our captain would get injured, but anytime in training coach Alloy always tells us to prepare our mindset to play in every game.
“When Ezenwa got injured, coach told me this is my time to make Nigerians proud and contribute to the team success. Also, for me to make the best of the opportunity and I am happy we won together. We played as a team and we were able to achieve the target,” an elated Ajiboye said.
In 19 previous encounters between both countries at senior level, Morocco edged the record with eight wins, with Nigeria winning seven times and four matches drawn. In their only previous CHAN encounter, Nigeria came from three goals down to defeat Morocco 4-3 after extra time in the quarter finals in Cape Town four years ago.
Ajiboye recalled the memories of the 2011 African Under-23 Championship held in Morocco.
Morocco defeated Nigeria 1-0, in the opening game of the championship. Abdelaziz Barrada scored the winner from the spot in the 25th minute of the game to help Morocco win. Ironically, Nigeria failed to qualify for the 2012 Olympics from the championship.
“We need to work hard and we are looking forward to the big game on Sunday, we need to be focused. We’ll be playing against the entire nation and passionate home fans. It will be lousy and we are battle ready for all the challenges.
“We lost to Morocco in the 2012 Olympic qualifiers championship and that defeat still hurt me till today, we played well but conceded a penalty. I want to revenge that defeat tomorrow and hopefully we’ll come out top to emerge champions,” he added.
The game will kickoff 7pm local time (8pm Nigeria time).