It is 14 years since Nigeria’s Flying Eagles last made appreciable impact at the FIFA U-20 World Cup, finishing runners-up to Lionel Messi-inspired Argentina.
The runners-up position, which the team also had in 1989, remains Nigeria’s best position so far, even though Ghana won the tournament 10 years ago in Egypt.
The redemption flight begins this Friday in Tychy with an encounter with Qatar as action in Groups C and D gets under way on day two of the FIFA U-20 World Cup Poland 2019.
The AFC Asian Cup semi-finalists will hope to erase memories of their first-round exit at New Zealand 2015, which came with three defeats. For their part, the Nigerians are making their return to the event after missing out on Korea Republic 2017.
Dele-Bashiru is a member of Nigerian football’s new wave. Currently on Manchester City’s books, the promising midfielder lends even more weight to Nigeria’s credentials.
Innately gifted, he has excelled at both the U-18 and U-20 levels, and his coaches have high hopes for him in Poland.
Qatar defender, Ahmed Alminhali already knows he will have his hands full in the encounter. According to fifa.com, he remarked: “All the teams here in Poland have to be taken seriously.
“There are no minnows anymore and everyone has genuine aspirations for the title. We all know about Nigeria. They’ve reached a few finals and won trophies too.”
Qatar coach. Bruno Miguel is a firm believer in the ability of Ali Abdellatif to spearhead his side to success over the next few weeks. And not without good reason, following the forward’s five-goal haul at the Asian Cup in Indonesia, an impressive return that has Qatar pinning their hopes on the young goalscorer.
In other matches, Honduras take on New Zealand with revenge on their minds after losing 3-1 to the Kiwis in the group phase at the 2017 competition, a result that contributed to early elimination for Los Catrachos.
In the other match in Group C, Uruguay take on Norway, with the South Americans intent on victory after their penalty-shootout exit in the semi-finals in Korea Republic two years ago.
Meanwhile, 2018 UEFA European Under-19 Championship semi-finalists Ukraine take on a USA side ready to improve on their quarter-final defeat at the hands of Venezuela in 2017.
Honduras-New Zealand (Lublin, 18:00)
Uruguay-Norway (Lodz, 20:30)
Qatar-Nigeria (Tychy, 18:00)
Ukraine-USA (Bielsko Biala, 20:30)