FIFA U-20 World Cup: Nigeria’s Flying Eagles target bright start against Qatar

Flying Eagles: Photo Credit: Thenff.com
Flying Eagles: Photo Credit: Thenff.com

The players and officials of the Nigeria U-20 football team, the Flying Eagles have said they would be looking to a bright start in their opening game at the 2019 FIFA U-20 World Cup on Friday against Qatar.

According to team captain Ikouwem Udoh Utin as well as Coach Paul Aigbogun, they will go all out for the three points when they take to the pitch of the 15,300 –capacity Tychy Stadium against Qatar in their Group D opener on Friday evening.

“It is a big match for us, like every other match in this competition. We know the importance of picking up the three points in our first match, which is why we are determined to go all out.

“Taking the first three points will help us plan our approach better for the remaining matches in the group phase, and also boost our confidence,” Utin said at the team’s Vienna House Hotel in Katowice on Thursday.

The team will leave their hotel in Katowice for the short drive to Tychy on Friday.

Friday’s game kicks off at 5 pm Nigeria time. The second match of Group D, between Ukraine and the USA, will begin at 7.30 pm Nigeria time.

Coach Paul Aigbogun and his assistants have somewhat calibrated a new ensemble.

They left out half of the squad members from the Africa U20 Cup of Nations in Niger Republic in February, where the team earned the ticket to Poland, and infused a number of exciting talents in midfield and attacking territories.

While the choice for the number one shirt is between Detan Ogundare and Olawale Oremade (who was the custodian in Niger), Valentine Ozornwafor and Igoh Ogbu are likely to keep their spots in central defence.

Captain Ikouwem Utin would be at left back while Jamil Muhammad could be at right back.

In the midfield, much attention will be on England –based duo Nnamdi Ofoborh and Ayotomiwa Dele-Bashiru, as well as AC Perugia of Italy’s former junior international Kingsley Michael. In this sector also are home –based professionals Effiom Maxwell and Aniekeme Okon, who are rapid raiders on their day.

Dele-Bashiru, of England champions Manchester City has already been tipped by world football –ruling body, FIFA, as one of the players from whom much is expected, in Poland.

At the fore, Nigeria has a cosmopolitan flavour with England –based Chinonso Emeka, Norway –based Jerome Adams, Czech Republic-based Tijani Muhammed, Sweden –based Henry Offia and home-based Success Makanjuola vying for available spots.

Aigbogun told thenff.com on Thursday that the group is aware of the pedigree of Nigeria at the FIFA U20 World Cup and cannot afford to under-perform.

“We have a tough history to match. Silver medals on two occasions and bronze medals once, and a number of quarterfinal appearances. That’s why we must start very well, by taking the points against Qatar and then march on with confidence and self-assurance.

“We are flying the flag of nearly 200 million Nigerians, as well as that of the African continent. We have put a lot of work into building a squad that will make Nigeria and Africa proud.”

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