Completesportnigeria.com's James Agberebi reports that Nigeria have often done well against European teams in FIFA U-20 World Cup round of 16 ties, as the Flying Eagles face Germany on Thursday…
After recovering from their early setback against Brazil, the Flying Eagles will take on Germany in the round of 16 at the on-going U-20 World Cup.
The Germans topped their group with nine points, scoring a whopping 16 goals, conceding just two, while the Flying Eagles emerged second in Group E, with two wins and a loss.
The first time both countries met at the U-20 World Cup was in 1999, when Nigeria played host to the rest of the world. The Flying Eagles won 2-0. And in their last meeting, the Germans had their pound of flesh as they defeated the Flying Eagles 3-2 at this same stage in 2009 in Egypt.
But it is on record that aside from the loss to the Germans in 2009, the Flying Eagles have had the better record against European opposition in the round of 16 of the U-20 World Cup.
NIGERIA 1999: NIGERIA 1-1 REP. IRELAND (FLYING EAGLES WON 5-3 ON PENALTY SHOOTOUT)
The last time the Flying Eagles played in the knockout stage before 1999 was in Saudi 1989, when teams progressed from the group stage straight to the quarter-finals (the team did not feature in four consecutive U-20 World Cups –
Portugal 1991, Australia 1993, Qatar 1995 and Malaysia 1997). But in Malaysia 1997, the number of teams was increased to 24, hence the introduction of the round of 16.
So, the Flying Eagles first ever opponent in the round of 16 at the FIFA U-20 World Cup was the Republic of Ireland in 1999 when Nigeria hosted the tournaments. Parading the duo of Robbie Keane and Damian Duff, the Irish took the lead through Richard Sadlier. But Pius Ikedia drew the Flying Eagles level before Nigeria went on to win 5-3 on penalties.
The Flying Eagles eventually got knocked out by Mali who beat them 3-1 in the quarter-finals. The Malians had in their ranks a certain Seydou Keita who would go on to be named the tournament's Most Valuable Player.
NETHERLAND 2005: NIGERIA 1-0 UKRAINE
Following their qualification for the round of 16, the Flying Eagles were paired against Ukraine inside the Vijverberg Stadium. The Flying Eagles dominated the encounter from the blast of the referee's whistle but could not break the deadlock until late in the game. The pressure finally paid off when Taye Taiwo's long range effort sailed over the keeper and nestled inside the net to give the Flying Eagles a deserved 1-0 win. The team went on to face hosts Netherland in the quarter-final and won via penalty shootout.
COLOMBIA 2011: NIGERIA 1-0 ENGLAND
The Flying Eagles secured maximum points in the group stage at the 2011 FIFA U-20 World Cup in Colombia. They thrashed Guatemala 5-0, saw off Croatia 5-2 before rounding off with a 2-0 win against Saudi Arabia.
Up next for the Flying Eagles in the round of 16 was England. And despite dominating play, the Eagles couldn't break down a resolute and disciplined English side. But their persistence paid off seven minutes into the second half thanks to Edafe Egbedi's strike which sent the English packing from the tournament.
And in the quarter-final, the Eagles lost to France 3-2. Among the players for the french team was Gael Kakuta, Francis Coquelin, Antoine Griezman, Clement Grenier and Ligue 1 highest goal scorer for last season Alexandre Lacazette, who grabbed a brace.