The FIFA U20 World Cup has reached the round of 16, and Nigeria’s Flying Eagles are set to face the formidable hosts, Argentina.
The upcoming clash promises an exhilarating encounter between two football powerhouses.
Here is Soccernet.ng‘s top pick of ten key things to note ahead of this highly anticipated match.
Clash of tournament giants
Argentina’s U20 national team, also known as Los Cebollitas (Little Onions), has a remarkable record in the FIFA U20 World Cup, having secured six titles in the past.
Their rich history, illustrious legends, and impressive track record make them a formidable opponent.
Argentina’s outstanding coach
Experienced former Liverpool and Barcelona midfielder Javier Mascherano is the head coach of the Argentine U20 squad.
Mascherano won countless honours for club and country, including two Olympic gold medals.
The 38-year-old’s enormous wealth of experience and tactical acumen will be crucial in shaping Argentina’s game plan.
Nigeria’s path to the Round of 16
Nigeria secured their place in the knockout rounds by finishing third in Group D.
They showcased their strength with victories over the Dominican Republic and Italy.
However, a setback against Brazil placed them in the third spot due to a narrower goal difference.
Determined Flying Eagles
Under the guidance of coach Ladan Bosso, Nigeria’s Flying Eagles have displayed determination and resilience throughout the tournament.
Their triumphs in the group stage – especially against high-flying Italy – prove their ability to rise to the occasion when it matters most.
If Nigeria overcome the Argentine challenge, their quarterfinal opponent will depend on the outcome of the Ecuador match and South Korea.
The quarterfinal clash is scheduled for June 4 at the Estadio Único Madre de Ciudades.
Argentina’s dominance in Group A
The hosts displayed their attacking and defensive prowess by winning all three group games.
They scored an impressive ten goals while conceding just one, solidifying their status as one of the tournament favourites.
Buoyed by passionate home support, Argentina will enter the match with an added advantage.
The vibrant atmosphere is expected to fuel the players and create a challenging environment for Nigeria.
Impressive goal-scoring form
Argentina’s attacking prowess has been on full display in the group stage, with their goal tally of ten goals being second only to Ecuador in the tournament.
The Flying Eagles’ defence will need to be on high alert.
Key strikers to watch
Argentina boast two exceptional strikers in Alejo Véliz and Luka Romero.
Véliz has already netted three goals, while Romero has contributed two to Argentina’s impressive goal haul.
Nigeria’s defence will face a stern test against these talented forwards. Samson Lawal, Salem Fago, and Jude Sunday have scored three of Nigeria’s four goals at the tournament. The other came from a Dominican Republic own goal.
A battle of skills and determination
The clash between Nigeria and Argentina promises to be a battle of skills, determination, and tactical understanding.
Both teams will leave no stone unturned as they vie for a coveted spot in the quarterfinals.