By Uche Dozie
On Sunday, the Nigerian Rugby team, Black Stallions at Mahamasima Stadium in Antananarivo, Madagascar, will go against the XV Makis of Madagascar in an elimination match for a ticket to the Rugby Africa Cup.
The elimination match or the qualifying match is to qualify the team for the 2020 Rugby Africa Cup group stage.
According to a statement from the teams manager, Dele Coker, the team had prepared in Kano for days and later gathered in Lagos to Madagascar today for the Sunday clash.
Black Stallions had performed good to be ranked eight in Africa at the Africa Sevens though not good enough to qualify them for Tokyo 2020. Their eyes will be on this tournament to qualify for the Africa Cup.
This is look like a difficult tie for the team as they play a Madagascar side that is ranked fifty-first in the world as against Nigeria’s seventy in the world.
However, the Nigerian Rugby team knows what is ahead of them and knows they have a lot to prove come Sunday in front of the Madagascar home fans.
“We’re expecting a partisan home crowd in Antananarivo with around 30 000 noisy fans. We will have to bring our A-game and show a more intense defence than we did when they put 50 points over us in a 7s game in Johannesburg recently,” says Dele Coker, Team Director Nigeria.
Kelechukwu Mbagwu, President of the Nigeria Rugby Football Federation (NRFF) states prior to the match: “We have a lot to prove. It would be good to get some payback and pride back. It’s going to be a big game for us. We’re in building phase in Nigeria rugby, still developing our pool of home-based players in our three regional leagues. We need to play international matches and keep testing ourselves against bigger, stronger and better opposition, so our guys can get used to playing at a higher level consistently.”
The winner of the tie will join Ghana and Cote D’voire who has qualified after beating Botswana 36-25 and Rwanda 60-3 respectively.
The match starts by 3 pm local time at the Mahamasima Stadium in Antananarivo, Madagascar.
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