F/Eagles seek first win over Brazil

Flying Eagles
Flying Eagles

• Kick-off 2am, Monday

The Flying Eagles, will aim for a first-ever victory and first goal against five-time champions Brazil on Monday in an opening World Cup Group E match at the Stadium Taranaki in New Plymouth, New Zealand.

Both countries have met four times at the FIFA U20 World Cup with Brazil winning thrice, while the last clash ended in a goalless draw.

Their first meeting was at Mexico 1983 when Nigeria debuted at the tournament. The Flying Eagles captained by late Ali Jeje and boasting the likes of Femi Olukanmi, Tarila Okorowanta, and Paul Okoku lost 3-0 to Brazil team who had Bebeto and Dunga.

The second encounter was in the Soviet Union (USSR) in 1985, when Nigeria lost 2-0 to the Samba Boys in the semifinals.

Brazil completed a hat-trick of wins over Nigeria at Chile 1987 with a ruthless 4-0 thrashing of a team that paraded the likes of Etim Esin, Nduka Ugbade and goalkeeper Willy Okpara.

The last meeting was at Holland 2005 when coach Samson Siasia-tutored side recorded the first point against Brazil with a goalless draw.

The Flying Eagles lined up Mikel Obi, Promise Isaac, Chinedu Obasi, Sani Kaita, among others.

The present class of the U20s are a team to beat in New Zealand and could well record a first win over the South Americans on Monday.

Former U20 stars Abduljeleel Ajagun and Kehinde Fatai, both of Panathinaikos (Greece) and Astra Giurgiu (Romania) said the Flying Eagles are capable of going all the way to win Nigeria a first-ever U20 World Cup trophy.

“This present U20 team is solid, I have been reading a lot about them from the U17s till now, they have formed a formidable unit. I believe they will beat Brazil and go all the way to the final and win the trophy, but they must take it one game at a time and concentrate,” predicted Fatai.

Ajagun, who captained the Flying Eagles to reach the Round of 16 in Turkey two years ago, said: “Flying Eagles are favourites to win this competition.

The African champions have drafted as many as eight players who were not at the African Youth Championship in Senegal in March with the likes of Kelechi Iheanacho, Isaac Success and Wilfred Ndidi expected to start on Monday.

Brazil, on the other hand, struggled in the South American qualifying tournament to finish a disappointing fourth.

They replaced their coach less than three weeks to the big kick-off, but must be boosted by 1-0 wins over both Portugal and Australia in warm-up games leading up to the World Cup.

Star player is playmaker Andreas Pereira, who has already made his debut in the EPL with Manchester United in March.

However, they will be missing the inventiveness in attack of Kenedy, who has been replaced at the last minute by Malcolm after he suffered an appendicitis issue which required surgery in Australia.

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