Nigeria’s U-20 boys, Flying Eagles, will work hard to sustain its winning mentality by taking the fight to Brazil in Saturday’s final match of Group D at the FIFA U20 World Cup finals in Argentina.
Head Coach Ladan Bosso on Friday expressed confidence that his charges can turn the table against the one team that has remained the Achilles heel of the seven-time African champions at the FIFA U20 World Cup.
“Yes, we acknowledge that Brazil has always been a hard nut to crack for our team at this level. We have lost a number of matches to them over the decades, but there is always a first time. We are riding on a wave of robust confidence and though we do not under-rate them, we certainly do not fear them.
“We have been able to fulfil our first objective for this championship: getting to the knockout stages. We will take it one match at a time from now onwards. We don’t want to take it easy and lose against Brazil; that will not be good for our winning mentality.”
NFF General Secretary, Dr Mohammed Sanusi, who is with the two-time World Cup silver medallists in Argentina, stated on Friday his belief that the Flying Eagles have the capacity to win and top their Group D.
“Presently, Nigeria is the only team with six points in the group. Italy can beat Dominican Republic and also go to six points. So, with the minimum of a slight win or draw against Brazil, we will top the group. It is important to top the group and also to sustain our spirit of winning.”
The 53,000 -capacity Estadio Ciudad de La Plata, close to Buenos Aires, is venue for the big clash as Brazil seek victory to be sure of a place in the last 16 while Nigeria only need a draw from the encounter to finish top of the pool.
Brazil defeated the Flying Eagles 3-0 in Nigeria’s first participation at the FIFA U-20 World Cup (then known as FIFA World Youth Championship) in Guadalajara, Mexico in 1983. The result was the only reason Nigeria, which had beaten the Soviet Union in her first match and subsequently drew 0-0 with The Netherlands, failed to make the knockout stage.
Two years later, the Brazilians ran out 2-0 winners over Nigeria in the semi-finals, and went ahead to lift the trophy while the Flying Eagles defeated host Soviet Union on penalties to clinch the bronze medals.
In 1987, in Chile, Brazil walloped the Flying Eagles 4-0 in their opening game and the Nigerians boys never recovered from the stunning defeat.
However, both teams battled to a scoreless draw in their opening match of Group F at the 2005 finals in The Netherlands, with Nigeria finishing ahead of Brazil (silver medals as against Brazil’s bronze) at the end of the championship.