FIFA U-20 World Cup: Nigeria Dare Senegal In Last 16 Round

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Lodz Stadium ready for Nigeria vs Senegal last 16 tie

BY EDMOND ODOK – After scrapping through to the last 16 stage in the on-going FIFA under-20 World Cup in Poland, Nigeria’s Flying Eagles will have their hands full today battling to soar past the Young Teranga Lions of Senegal for a quarter-finals place in the tournament.

Qualifying for the knockout phase by whiskers after holding Ukraine to a 1-1 draw in Bielsko-Biała, the Flying Eagles are filing out inside the Lodz Stadium, Lodz, against their African brothers, with the winner destined to face either Japan or South Korea in the quarter-finals round.

The Lodz stadium, popularly called ‘The Promised Land’ does not hold much promise for Africa as this early knockout round confrontation clearly means further depletion of the continent’s presence in the Championship going forward.

Coach Youssouph Dabo’s Senegal were runners-up at 2019 Africa Under-20 Cup of Nations (AFCON), where they lost on penalties to eventual winners, Mali and their near-flawless performance in Poland so far, has made many pundits to tip them as favourites against Nigeria in this last 16 encounter.

Unbeaten in Poland, the Young Terranga Lions finished top of Group A, having won two games and got a draw, without conceding any goals in their outings.

On the contrary, the Flying Eagles’ record has been anything but impressive, finishing third in Group D and only qualified as one of the best four third–place finishers in the six groups.

Aside their opening day 4-0 thrashing of Qatar, the seven times African champions have been so lethargic in Poland, losing 0-2 to USA and drawing 1-1 with Ukraine, both in Bielsko-Biala.

The Nigerian delegation arrived Lodz on Saturday afternoon as confirmed by the Director of Communications, Nigeria Football Federation (NFF), Ademola Olajire, who said in a statement that the “Players and officials left their Qubus Hotel in Bielsko-Biala after breakfast and arrived in Poland’s third largest city just in time for lunch at the Hotel Ambasador Premium,”.

However, with fans upbeat that today’s the all-African confrontation slated for 7.30pm is a make or mar tie for the Flying Eagles, Olajire assured that the spirit in camp is high and the prospects of facing another African team may have engendered unspoken steel determination in the team to succeed

Meanwhile, the other African side still in the tournament, Mali has been rewarded for their second place finish in Group E with a date against Argentina in Bielsko-Biała on Tuesday.

Should they scale the South American hurdle, a tie against Italy or Poland awaits them in the last eight stage

Already, South Africa’s Amajita are back home in Johannesburg following their elimination at the group stage.

ALL THE ROUND OF 16 PAIRINGS

SUNDAY – JUNE 2

Italy 1 vs Poland 0 in Gdynia

Colombia 1 (5) vs New Zealand 1 (4) on penalties in Lodz

MONDAY – JUNE 3

Uruguay Vs Ecuador (Lublin)

Ukraine Vs Panama (Tychy)

Senegal Vs Nigeria (Lodz)

TUESDAY – JUNE 4

Japan vs Korea Republic (Lublin)

France vs USA (Bydgoszcz)

Argentina vs Mali (Bielsko-Biala

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