Monday, March 4, 2024

U-20 World Cup: Nigeria proceed to quarter-final after beating Argentina

The Flying Eagles of Nigeria have qualified for the quarter-final of the ongoing FIFA U-20 World Cup.

Nigeria achieved the feat after defeating the hosts Argentina 2-0 in the second-round fixture on Wednesday at the Estadio San Juan del Bicentenario, San Juan.

The Nigerian team, who progressed out of their group as one of the best losers, dumped Argentina — who finished top of their group with maximum points — out of the tournament.

Ladan Bosso made three changes to the lineup that lost 2-0 to Brazil in their final group game. Benjamin Fredrick returned to the backline while Emmanuel Umeh and Victor Eletu made way for Tochukwu Nnadi and Ibrahim Muhammad.

The boisterous home fans at the stadium were behind Argentina as the South Americans enjoyed an ironclad dominance in the early stage of the match.

Nigeria almost got a shocking lead in the ninth minute, but Ibrahim Muhammed stroked the ball just inches away from the upright.

The Nigerians seemed content to relinquish the ball to the possession of the Argentines as Federico Redondo and Valentín Carboni carved yards of spaces in the midfield.

After the first half break, Bosso brought on Umeh and Haliru Sarki for Salim Fago Lawal and Jude Sunday. The changes improved the drabness in the Nigerian final third immediately.

A few minutes later, the Flying Eagles sent the noisy home crowd quiet. Umeh fought off a defender and scooped a through pass to Muhammed at the edge of Argentina’s goal area. The winger made no mistake and sent the ball beyond an onrushing Gomes Gerth into the net.

The Argentines reacted accordingly to the goal as they poured forward in search of an equaliser. But Kingsley Aniaboso, the Nigerian goalkeeper, made important stops to prevent the opponents from scoring opportunities.

Bosso then tweaked the tactics further and brought on Eletu for Muhammed, and the substitute turned the provider of the second goal of the game.

After a long pouting kick from Aniaboso, Umeh pinged it to Argentina’s goal area as Eletu wrestled off a marker before straining to tee up Sarki for a flying header into the net.

The Nigerians weathered the eight-minute added time as they booked their place in the competition’s round of eight.

The Flying Eagles are billed to play the winner of the clash between South Korea and Ecuador in the quarter-final.

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