Captain Ikouwem Utin says two-time runners up Nigeria will go all out for the three points against Qatar at the 15,300 -capacity Tychy Stadium, in their opening match of Group D of the 2019 U-20 World Cup finals on Friday (today).
“It is a big match for us, as every other match in this competition. We know the importance of picking up the three points in our first match, which is why we are determined to go all out,” Utin said at the team’s Vienna House Hotel in Katowice on Thursday.
“Taking the first three points will help us plan our approach better for the remaining matches in the group phase, and also boost our confidence.”
The team will leave their hotel in Katowice for the short drive to Tychy on Friday.
The game kicks off at 5pm Nigerian time. The second match of Group D, between Ukraine and USA, begins at 7.30pm Nigerian time.
Coach Paul Aigbogun and his assistants left out half of the squad members from the U-20 Africa Cup of Nations in Niger Republic in February, where the team earned the ticket to Poland, and infused a number of exciting talents in the midfield and attack.
While the choice for the number one shirt is between Detan Ogundare and Olawale Oremade (who was custodian in Niger), Valentine Ozornwafor and Igoh Ogbu are likely to keep their spots in central defence. Captain Utin would be at left back while Jamil Muhammad could be at right back.
In the midfield, there’s England-based duo Nnamdi Ofoborh and Ayotomiwa Dele-Bashiru, Perugia’s Kingsley Michael and home-based duo Effiom Maxwell and Aniekeme Okon.
Dele-Bashiru, who plays for English champions Manchester City, has been tipped by FIFA as one of the players expected to shine in Poland.
In attack, the Flying Eagles has England-based Chinonso Emeka, Jerome Adams (Norway), Tijani Muhammed (Czech Republic), Henry Offia (Sweden) and Success Makanjuola, who plays in the domestic league, vying for places.
“We have a tough history to match; silver medals twice, bronze once, and a number of quarter-final appearances. That’s why we must start very well, by taking the points against Qatar and then march on with confidence and self-assurance,” Flying Eagles coach Paul Aigbogun said.
“We are flying the flag of nearly 200 million Nigerians, as well as that of the African continent. We have put a lot of work into building a squad that will make Nigeria and Africa proud.”