The 2023 class of Nigeria’s Flying Eagles on Wednesday made history by beating hosts Argentina 2-0 to qualify for the quarter finals of the ongoing FIFA Under 20 World Cup (U20WC).
Ladan Bosso’s wards put up a disciplined and tactical performance before seeing off Javier Mascherano’s boys with two second half goals to record Nigeria’s first ever victory over Argentina at the Under 20 level.
Ibrahim Beji Muhammad finished a brilliant pass by substitute Emmanuel Umeh to give Nigeria the lead on 61 minutes before another substitute Rilwanu Haliru Sarki headed into an unguarded net in stoppage time to seal Nigeria’s win.
This is so sweet because Argentina are coached by Javier Mascherano. 😁— Calvin 'Emeka Onwuka (@CalvinEmeka) May 31, 2023
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Nigeria head coach Bosso made a couple of surprise decisions for his starting eleven; dropping Victor Eletu and Emmanuel Umeh to make for a mobile and combative midfield trio in Daniel Daga, Tochukwu Nnadi and Samson Lawal.
The trio snuffed the life out of Argentina’s promising youngsters who struggled to find space to breath for majority of the time spent on the pitch perhaps with the exception of Valentin Carboni who was up for the battle until his surprise substitution by Mascherano.
After the West Africans successfully kept their hosts at arm’s length in the first half, Bosso stepped it up in the second with the introduction of Sarki and Umeh. The result was instantaneous. Just three minutes after coming on, Umeh provided the opener, chipping an intelligent pass to Muhammad who finished expertly.
HT: Argentina 0-0 Nigeria— Fisayo Dairo (@FisayoDairo) May 31, 2023
A very competitive contest in San Juan. The Nigerian lads have denied their hosts time and space to perform their craft. Decision to drop Eletu for Nnadi paid off from a tactical point for Bosso. Can the boys do the unthinkable? #U20WC
Bosso then added AC Milan youngster Eletu to the mix with eleven minutes left on the clock. It was at that point all three substitutes combined to score the killer goal at the nick of time.
Umeh flicked goalkeeper Chijioke Aniagboso’s long ball onto the path of Eletu who showed a great degree of tenacity to hold off Argentina defender Agustin Giay before crossing for Sarki who headed home.
It was poetic justice for the Nigerian side who had their pre-game preparations distorted due to logistic reason ranging from delayed flights for close to twelve hours and being left stranded at the Airport.
The Flying Eagles will face winners of the game between Ecuador and South Korea which will be decided on Thursday, in the quarter finals.