The Flying Eagles of Nigeria have qualified for the second round of the ongoing 2023 FIFA U-20 World Cup.
The Eagles booked a place in the competition’s knockout phase despite losing 2-0 to Brazil in their final group game on Saturday at the Estadio Único Diego Armando Maradona, La Plata, Argentina.
The defeat was the Flying Eagles’ only loss in the group after defeating Italy and the Dominican Republic in their first two games.
But the team finished third in the group and only progressed as one the best third-placed teams in the group stage.
Ladan Bosso made two changes to the lineup that started the previous games against Gil Azurrini on Wednesday. Augustine Njoku got his first game of the tournament in place of Benjamin Fredrick, while Emmanuel Umeh came in for Ibrahim Muhammad.
The Nigerians began the game the hungrier team, and Jude Sunday almost gave them the lead in the eighth minute, but his cultured volley spanked the underside of the crossbar and just fractioned off the goalline before Mycael, the Brazilian goalkeeper, scooped the ball out.
However, Nigeria’s early control atrophied thereon, and the Brazilian grew more into the game. The South Americans’ domination culminated in two goals just before halftime.
Jean Pedroso reacted quickest to a floating corner and headed the ball into the net past the faint touch of Kingsley Aniaboso’s arm.
The lead was doubled a few minutes later — Marquinhos was at the end of a quick counter-attack, and he slotted the ball through the legs of Aniaboso into the net.
After the break, Bosso opted for a triple substitution and sent on Rilwanu Sarki, Joshua John, and Tochukwu Nnadi for Salim Fago Lawal, Victor Lawal and Daniel Daga.
While Sarki struck the crossbar twice, the Flying Eagles looked timid, and the game limped past them as Brazil finished first in the group with six points and seven goals difference.
In the other group game, Italy outclassed the Dominican Republic 3-0 and climbed to second with six points and just one goal ahead of Nigeria.
Nigeria will play either USA or Argentina in the second round of the competition, billed to commence on Tuesday.