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Nigeria’s Flying Eagles this evening face a crucial test as they confront group D leaders Ukraine in the final preliminary game at the ongoing FIFA U-20 World Cup in Poland.
Paul Aigbogun’ s side put up a colourless display in Monday night’s 2-0 loss to the USA which has now make qualification to the knockout stage dicey.
The Flying Eagles, who are two-time runners up in the biennial championship, had a bright start pummelling Qatar 4-0 in their opening match but succumbed to a highly technical USA team with striker Sebastian Soto netting a double at Bielsko-Biala where today’s game will also take place at 7.30pm Nigerian time.
Although they already have a spot in the Round of 16, Ukraine could still finish third on the log and be condemned to face the first –placed team in Group B (race still between Italy and Japan).
That is, if they lose to Nigeria and USA on three points as Nigeria, racks up a big win over Qatar.
However, Paul Aigbogun’s boys will do well to avoid the kind of lethargic display they contrived against USA, and put together more fluent attacking moves complemented by clinical finishing.
If they end up as group D winners, the Flying Eagles will travel back to Tychy to play a third –placed team in the Round of 16 on Monday. If they finish in second place, they would be off to Bydgoszcz to play the winner of group E (which has another African flagbearer Mali, as well as France, Panama and Saudi Arabia).
And if they end up as one of the best third –placed teams, they would be off to Lodz to play the winner of group B.
Whatever their game plan for Thursday night’s encounter, Aigbogun’s wards must watch out for Ukraine’s Denys Popov, who has scored two of the Ukrainian side’s three goals at the championship so far, as well as Serhi Buletsa, who scored one of their goals against USA.