Argentina 2023: Ahead of this year’s FIFA U-20 World Cup finals
By Rasheed Adewuyi
The delegation of two-time runners-up Nigeria have arrived in Buenos Aires, capital of Argentina for a 10-day camping programme ahead of this year’s FIFA U-20 World Cup finals.
A contingent of 20 players and 10 officials departed the Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport, Abuja on Saturday night aboard a Turkish Airline flight, and travelled through Istanbul before heading to the “land of the Pampas”.
With a record of having finished with the silver medals in 1989 and 2005, and with the bronze medals in 1985, the Flying Eagles are hoping to break the duck and collect the top prize in their 13th appearance at a tournament they first graced in Mexico 40 years ago.
That year, they stunned then Soviet Union 1-0 through a well-taken goal by Tarila Okorowanta in Monterrey, but then lost 0-3 to Brazil in their second game in Guadalajara. Needing victory to reach the knock-out round, the Flying Eagles could only draw with the Netherlands in their final group game in Monterrey.
Nigeria has been slotted in Group D for this year’s championship and will play the Dominican Republic, Italy, and Brazil in that order in the group phase.
Their first two games will hold in Mendoza, in the far west of Argentina, against the Dominican Republic on 21 May, and against Italy on 24 May, before they fly to La Plata to play Brazil on 27 May.
La Plata, Santiago del Estero, San Juan and Mendoza are the four host cities for the 24-nation championship.
Algeria 2023: Ugbade says his boys want to go all the way after sweet victory over Amajimbo
Nduka Ugbade captained the first Nigerian squad to win a FIFA World Cup, in 1985, and was assistant coach when the Golden Eaglets won the FIFA U17 World Cup in the United Arab Emirates 10 years ago. He also took a FIFA U20 World Cup silver medal in 1989. Now, he is looking to lead the Nigeria U17 team to win the Africa U17 Cup of Nations as preparatory to giving the FIFA U17 World Cup a shot later this year.
“These boys have now picked up the confidence they needed following the defeat by Morocco and they are now looking forward to going all the way here,” Ugbade said on Sunday following the Golden Eaglets’ 3-2 win over South Africa in their last match of Group B in Constantine on Saturday.
Vicky Mkhawana steered the Amajimbo ahead in the 6th minute of the encounter, from South Africa’s first corner kick of the match, and Nigeria equalized in the 33rd minute also through a corner kick as Charles Agada powerfully nodded into the net with the Amajimbo goalkeeper stranded.
Much against the run of play, the Amajimbo restored their lead with a fabulous solo goal in stoppage time by Siyabonga Mabena.
Undeterred, the five-time world champions restored parity when Light Eke finished coolly from a low cross by Charles Agada, two minutes into the second period.
The Nigerians were completely in control afterwards, and Abdullahi Abubakar scored his first goal of the competition with a calm finish in the 63rd minute.
“This victory has restored the boys’ confidence. We needed such a win going into the knock-out rounds and it is our belief that we can handle the pressure there.
“The loss to Morocco was also a good lesson for us. When you’re at a championship, you need a winning mentality, but also a match that provides good lessons along the way. Both factors make for a very strong and ready squad.”
The Golden Eaglets will play the winner of the clash between Cameroon and Burkina Faso (Group C) in the quarter finals on Thursday.