By Sports Recorder Edition, May 20, 2023.
The 2023 edition of the FIFA U-20 World Cup will get underway in Argentina on Saturday (today) with Nigeria’s Flying Eagles looking to claim the title for the first time.
The Flying Eagles are among the four countries that will be representing Africa at the biennial competition, which will run from May 20 to June 11.
The other three are; Senegal, Gambia and Tunisia.
Ladan Bosso’s side came third at the 2023 Africa U-20 Cup of Nations earlier in the year in Egypt and opinions are divided on how far the team can go in Argentina.
Drawn in the tournament’s toughest group with five-time champions Brazil, European powerhouse Italy and debutants Dominican Republic, the Flying Eagles will fancy their chances following the injection of some new players in the team.
Bosso has wielded the big stick by dropping some underperforming players at the U-20 AFCON in Egypt.
Among the players dropped are Ochefu Ogbelu, Adams Olamilekan and Ibrahim Mohammed.
AC Milan teenager, Victor Eletu leads the new invitees and eyes will be on the defensive midfielder and the new boys at the competition.
The team showed character by rallying to hold Colombia to a thrilling 3-3 in a friendly on Tuesday.
Argentina 2023 will be the Flying Eagles’ 13th appearance at the FIFA U-20 World Cup.
The Flying Eagles have made it to the final of the competition twice in the past (1989 & 2005) losing to Portugal and The Netherlands on both occasions.
The West Africans won a bronze medal on their second appearance in the competition in 1985.
The team have made it to the quarter-finals thrice in the past.
The Nigerian boys have, however, failed to make it beyond the Round of 16 in their last three appearances in the competition.
“The Flying Eagles were unlucky not making it to the final at the U-20 AFCON in Egypt but I believe they can do better this time around even though things will be different this time.
“This is the World Cup and is a bigger stage. They will be up against better opposition with quality coaches. I believe they should be up to the task.
“Ladan Bosso is an experienced coach who knows what to expect at this level. I’m rooting for the team to do well in Argentina,” former Super Eagles winger, Tijani Babangida.
“They are in a tricky group but I believe they should be able to scale through. From the knockout round then anything can happen.
“We have done well in this competition in the past and I see the team maintaining the same standard again,” Former Enyimba defender, Dare Ojo.