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By James Agberebi:

After huge expectations from Nigerian football fans that finally, the country has the team that can will put old nemesis Brazil in their place in the U-20 World Cup (after losing three previous encounters and drawing one), it wasn't to be as the Flying Eagles were taught some bitter football lessons as they lost 4-2 despite taking the lead at some point in the game. Littered with some exciting talents, it was widely agreed that the current crop have what it takes to match the Junior Selecao, skill for skill and eventually secure our first ever victory against them, especially coming into the U-20 World Cup as African champions but it wasn't to be for the Coach Manu Garba-led side.

Instead, what was served millions of Nigerians who decided stay up to watch the Group E clash was calamitous goalkeeping, poor defending and tactical ineptitude of Nigerian coaches on the big stage.

The question on everyone's lips after the reality check was, what went wrong? Why did the team show promise in the early exchanges of the game before finally surrendering? 

Well, here are five possible reasons which probably cost the Flying Eagles a first win against Brazil at this level.


The Flying Eagles are known for their brilliant style of counter-attacking football that was breathless and exciting to watch. And with the attacking formation put out by Manu Garba, that comprises talents like Kelechi Iheanacho, Taiwo Awoniyi, Isaac Success and Musa Yahaya, it was expected that they should do enough to overrun the Brazilian defence.

As expected, the Flying Eagles were all over their opponent as chances after chances were created with the team even coming from a goal down to take the lead. But it soon became clear that the coach made a mistake using all four players in one match, as there was nobody else to call from the bench when the team were in need of fresh ideas upfront.


The Brazilians' intentions from the kick-off was to finish the game off as quickly as possible. They were so confident of themselves that they played a high pressing game that saw their defenders keep a high line. The approach seemed to backfire as the Flying Eagles ran rings round them, with breath-taking attacks which resulted in two goals and also missed chances.

On resumption of the second half, the Brazilians were all over the Flying Eagles, as they crowded the midfield and made use of the wings effectively which eventually paid off with the only two goals in the second half going to the Brazilians.


One major mistake that was made by the Flying Eagles coach was the idea of making use of just two midfielders in Ifeanyi Mathew and Mathew Mathew. At the African Youth Championship in Senegal, one of the reasons why the team was so difficult to beat was the compactness of their midfield. The midfield was the first wall of the defence as opponents found it hard to penetrate them. But why the coach decided to go with a two-man midfield against a technically gifted and tactically sound team like the Brazilians, baffles not a few.


Prior to the start of the tournament, one area of the Flying Eagles which Manu Garba was having sleepless nights was in the defence. Even at the AYC in Senegal, the Flying Eagles were suspect in defence, but it was difficult to note this by their opponents as they were well screened by a well organized midfield. 

But against Brazil, they were all over the place as they couldn't cope with the wave of attacks coming from the Brazilians, no thanks to the midfielders who were having a torrid time containing them.

At the AYC, Joshua Enaholo was the standout keeper, making spectacular saves. Even when he was replaced by Ojo Olorunleke following a sending off in the second game, it was a general sigh of relief when he was back between the sticks in the semi-fianl. But on Monday, Enaholo was all nerves as he looked a shadow of himself, commiting one error after another. He was a liability on set pieces as the Brazilians discovered.

Enaholo eventually capped a poor day at the office by conceding two cheeky goals which decided the outcome of the game.

Having said all these, there is the general belief that the team can bounce back from this early set back as they are not going to be facing the Brazilians any time soon. And with what they displayed in the early part of the game against Brazil, not many teams will be able to withstand the attacking threat they possess. All the coaching crew need to do now is try and make amends ahead of their next game against North Korea.    

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  • Tobehukwu 6 years ago

    I am hopeful that our lads will bounce back and strongly too.

  • Gabriel 6 years ago

    The coach should just accept that a big mistake in his selection again the talented brazilian. ..dropping Idowu Akinjide in to accommodate more attacker was his great mistake..immediately i saw the starting line up, i know there’s going to be problem and in which we eventually lost the game…it’s never too late and thank God it happens in the group stage. ..i hope he has learnt his lesson..blaming the goalkeeper or the players is not the issue. . He should take responsibility and correct himself. I strongly believe in the team. .We are going to qualify by God grace. ..up flying eagles

    • Keneri 6 years ago

      The starting line-up was very good, the coach had a game plan of scoring early goals and later pull out one or two of the attckers (TAIWO AWONIYI, ISAAC SUCCESS, KELECHI IHEANACHO AND MUSA YAHAYA), that was the reasons he used them all.  It's always a diffirent song when you loss.  Good luck against the Koreans Flying Eagle.

  • Michael Omotor 6 years ago

    Superb in the first half.However, silly mistakes cost us the game in the second half.Why is Awoniyi laughing and smiling when he missed five goals? Where is Dele Alampasu? Is kelechi ready to play ball?

  • My question to Coach Manu is why was Alampasu not @ the goal post? Who's Joshua Enaholo? Has this kid ever played outside of Africa? Wow. This time, Coach you blew it big time…but I'm sure you and the boys have learnt your lesson and you'll definitely not allow this to happen again. Hence, I forgive you. Let's go annihilate the Koreans. Go flying Eagle!!!! I predict  that we will win the cup by God's grace. 

  • Osas Aghazeta 6 years ago


  • essien 6 years ago

    indeed so sad that we keep making mistakes in competition

    like this, i thought NFF sent some guys to UK to do match 

    reading training? the ones that came back were they not in 

    New Zeland?

    we lost due to our inability to read games, just hope all hands

    will be on deck and right this time to face the fast pace of the 


    all the best guys

  • the main thing is to focus on how to beat north korea with a wide margin,then our third game will be easy.

  • please, where is simon moses of gent Belgium that can dribble run, that is kind of player we need

  • Bros leave it.. I was once in your shoe.. pls don’t try to prove anything, just take a brake pls allow Alapansu keep, he is been in such competition .. under 17. U will continues to make the mistake… your first match should boost your confidence throughout the competition and as it stand now you have missed it so pls pls relax cause any shot towards you will scare you and one will definitely find that back if the net. Just relax abeg, also the keeper recovery is too slow.. the last goal should be safe despite going through his legs.. he just too slow to recover and he doesn’t dive for balls shhhh pls dontvuse him in our next match or you are coming back home.

  • jozeebalo 6 years ago

    looking forward to their improvement in their next game

  • They will bounce back.

  • Olalere Isola 6 years ago

    The coach killed d game. Football has gone beyond kick and follow. No matter how good a team is, d coach is also expected to be good technically. Whoever who fails to play to his instructions shd be benched. All d so called attackers fumbled. Change d keeper, bench success and iheanacho to be brought in to change d gae at 2nd half

  • playing 3 attackers compromised midield. Nwaali should strengtheen midfield. Kelechi should come in later in the game…

  • ejisco 6 years ago

    our boys will bounce back.

  • pls where is DELE ALAMPASU and IDOWU? why should garba use four attacker I expect him to use OWONIYI& IHEANACHO for attacker and others to midfield,,& defender, pls correct your mistake in the next match, up flying eagle, up Nigeria, they are our next super eagle

  • thankgod 6 years ago

    manu garba why didnt u start simon Moses he is a born champion everybody knows that …mind u he is a champion of Belgium league with his team…

  • Kwasi Appiah, Toronto 6 years ago

    That was a painful loss. The margin does not portray the trend of play. No one can tell me Brazil outplayed Nigeria. It was just some fatal errors. The next two games are easily winnable by the DREAM TEAM OF AFRICA. This Nigerian team has got the potency to dismantle any squad. I believe they have learnt a good lesson & will definitely aim for nothing else but the cup. Fly on, Eagles.

  • We need to play very well against the Koreans and hopefully defeat them with a wide margin because the Hungarians are not going to be a walk in the park so to speak. In any case, we’ll sail through to the next round. It’s going to be the samba boys and the Eagles going through to the 2nd round. Up flying Eagles!!! Make Naija proud guys. God bless y’all.

  • Briggs 6 years ago

    the match was just so funny that I begin to wonder of its the same manu garba that led this lad all d while that he can’t realize ihenacho is never effective on d flanks, and d pairing of success and awoniyi as never materialized, just hoping Mr Enaholo is not on a mission to destroy carrier of others, and please where is our 10, is he dead cos he was so needed in the last match, uncle ihenacho should remember this was where he got his pass to man city and please play like ihenacho.

  • Emmanuel 6 years ago

    umfortunately i wasnt opportuned to watch the match. However, we still have 6points to hussle for. I believe in the teams strength. Goodluck youngsteRs