It was both a decent result and performance when yesterday the Flying Eagles defeated their Zambian counterparts in a warm-up game leading up to the U20 AFCON later this month in Egypt.
A 4-2 victory against the 2017 U20 AFCON champions was a big confidence booster for coach Ladan Bosso and his boys.
The Flying Eagles Class of 2023 have now gone 17 games unbeaten.
In Egypt, they will be gunning for an eighth continental crown at this level.
They already have their work cut out for them after they were drawn in a tough-looking Group A along with hosts Egypt, Senegal and Mozambique.
Preparations for the AFCON have been a lot better than they were for the qualifiers in May 2022 in Niger Republic.
After a three-week training camp in December in Abuja, the team reassembled early last month.
Their unbeaten run has included wins over NPFL and NNL clubs and now Zambia U20s.
In Morocco for a training stint and acclimatisation, they will also play against two U20 AFCON-bound teams before they finally touch down in Cairo.
Bosso has practically moved mountains to put together a team who will be highly competitive even in the absence of highly-rated skipper Tosin Adegbite, Ibrahim Yahaya, Dominion Ohaka and the likes of Ahmed Abdullahi and Azeez Balogun, who were not released by their foreign clubs.
“I will work with the players who are available,” he told me with a very clear conviction.
From the qualifiers in Niger, only 10 players survived the purge – half the squad.
A strikers’ crisis in the Flying Eagles appears to now be a thing of the past for him after he converted Remo Stars winger Olamilekan Adams as centre-forward.
Adams has scored and assisted in the team’s last three games including yesterday’s game against the Junior Chipolopolo.
Francis Ayuba was first-choice striker, but failed to cut it against tougher opposition.
He is now the team’s battling ram, starts the game to use his speed and power to run down the defence for Adams to come in and do the damage, like was the case yesterday.
But Bosso must rethink who starts in midfield.
Daniel Daga remains his main defensive midfielder and he often plays him alongside schoolboy sensation Onuche Ogbelu when he wants to stop the other team.
But when you are chasing the game, this combination can only be counter-productive as Ogbelu is first and foremost defensive-minded.
Mohammed Aminu from Gombe United completed the trio in the middle against Zambia.
He flopped at the qualifiers and against Zambia, he was a misfit, lacked tactical discipline and failed to provide the offensive push and creativity his role demanded.
Both Samson Lawal and Jonathan Nicholas will be better options to start.
In defence, Solomon Agbalaka must step up his game in the problematic leftback position and Bosso must be worried how the backline switched off twice against Zambia and they paid dearly for it.
Captain Daniel Bamaiyi is one of the first names on this team – not tall for a central defender, but strong and reliable at all times all the same.
Who should play alongside him?
Turkey-based Michael Ologo was first considered, but in recent days he has dropped down the pecking order for Sweden-based Abel Ogwuche to get this honour.
Ogwuche is almost unbeatable in the air, but he is prone to mistakes in the box.
Benjamin Frederick, who will be at the AFCON only courtesy of the last-minute changes in the squad, looked very comfortable and at home when he came in to replace Ogwuche against Zambia.
Are fears that he will be bullied by the very physical attackers at the U20 AFCON still well founded?
Bosso will be the man to answer this poser.
His answer could well be the difference between a good Flying Eagles and a GREAT team.