FIFA U20 WC: Flying Eagles determined to pip Korea Republic for semi-final spot

By Oviri Kelvin

Nigeria’s inspired U20 boys have flown into the northern Argentine city of Santiago del Estero ahead of Sunday’s FIFA U20 World Cup quarter-final clash with their counterparts from Korea Republic.

The Koreans on Thursday edged hard-fighting Ecuador 3-2 in their own Round of 16 encounter, to set up a much-anticipated last-eight tango with the two-time silver medallists.

Seven-time African champions Nigeria have surged on the bookmakers’ ratings and are now regarded as favourites following Wednesday night’s commanding defeat of hosts and six-time champions Argentina in their Round of 16 encounters in San Juan.

Isah Ladan Bosso, who was also head coach when the Flying Eagles reached the quarter-finals of the FIFA U20 World Cup in Canada 16 years ago, told on Thursday that his team has kept to the pre-tournament philosophy of dealing with one match at a time.

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“We are delighted to have executed a perfect game plan against Argentina. Our strategy and tactics worked out and the boys worked very hard. Now, we have to concentrate on what to expect from the Koreans. We have been watching their games at this championship and we have a good idea of how to prepare for them.

“Again, the boys must work hard and carry out our plan on match day. We have the playing personnel to do the job and I am positive we will cross the Korean hurdle.”

In 2007 in Canada, Bosso’s wards defeated Costa Rica and Scotland and drew with Japan to reach the Round of 16, where they edged fellow Africans Zambia 2-1 in Ottawa to set up a quarter-final date with Chile in Montreal.

That team, captained by Nduka Ozokwo, stood up to the Chileans for 90 minutes but collapsed in extra time under the covered arena of the Montreal Olympic Stadium. Bosso says he is aware of the quarter-final banana peel and will not stumble this time.

“It is a new day, a new championship, a new city and a new team. Nigeria has been in the final of this same competition on two previous occasions. Our objective is to at least match that feat. Once we’re in the final, anything can happen.”

Sunday’s quarter-final battle with the Koreans is scheduled for the Estadio Unico Madre de Ciudades in Santiago del Estero, from 6.30pm Nigeria time

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