We’re ready for Argentina, says Flying Eagles
• Players have promised big gift for President Bola Tinubu, says NFF SG
Nigeria’s junior national team, the Flying Eagles, have acknowledged that beating host nation, Argentina, tomorrow, in the knockout stage of the on-going FIFA U-20 World Cup might be difficult, but not impossible.
The Nigerians have been paired against the South Americans, who are the most successful nation in FIFA U-20 World Cup history with six titles to their name.
The Flying Eagles, with the likes of Mikel Obi, were losing finalists to a Lionel Messi-inspired Argentina in 2005. It was the country’s second loss in the competition following the final defeat by Portugal at the Saudi ‘89 edition.
Speaking with The Guardian, yesterday, from the team’s camp, Secretary General of the Nigeria Football Federation (NFF), Mohammed Sanusi, said the players and their technical crew already know the task ahead of them.
“This is a World Cup, and for you to become the champion, you have to be strong. Not many people gave the team the chance of beating Italy in our second game, but the boys did it. Now, we are in the knockout stage, and the stake is higher.
“The players are very confident of turning the table against Argentina on Wednesday. We have spoken with them, and have given them the encouragement them need.
“As I said, Argentina is a big football playing nation. They are the host, and the crowd will be rooting for them. That will be an added advantage to them. But in football, it is a game of 11 versus 11 players on the pitch. Our players want to make good names for themselves, and beating Argentina will be a dream come true for them. They are also aware we have a new president in Nigeria, and it will be a thing of joy for them to beat Argentina and put smiles on the face of President Bola Tinubu. Victory is achievable on Wednesday,” Sanusi stated.
This is Argentina’s 17th participation in the U-20 World Cup. The golden era for the South American nation was from 1995 to 2007 when they remarkably won five out of the seven editions of the U-20 World Cup during this period.
Diego Maradona and Lionel Messi have both left their marks on this tournament in some style, with the former claiming the Golden Ball when Argentina won their first title in 1979 and Messi repeating the feat in 2005 when he also won the Golden Boot. Argentina’s Javier Saviola is the top scorer in the history of the FIFA U-20 World Cup with 11 goals, all of which he scored at the 2001 finals.