U-20 World Cup: How Flying Eagles tamed the Azurris at Estadio Malvinas

U-20 World Cup: How Flying Eagles tamed the Azurris at Estadio Malvinas

Many soccer devotees in Nigeria did not anticipate the Flying Eagles victory against their Italian opponents in the second group D match of the U-20 World Cup in Argentina.U-20 World Cup: How Flying Eagles tamed the Azurris at Estadio Malvinas

Many did not also anticipate a 2-0 scoreline against the well-favorite Italian U-20 football side.

The fears of many football fans were, however, heightened after the Italians defeated one of the most respected football teams in the world, Brazil, 3-2, in the first match of Group D.

With the Italian victory against Brazil, Nigerians watched the second group D match between the Flying Eagles and the Italian U-20 team with skepticism on Wednesday, May 24, 2023, at Estadio Malvinas, Argentinas, Mendoza.

It was a ding-dong affair for the two teams in the first ten minutes of the match, with Flying Eagles Daniel Daga making a little incursion into the Italian eighteen-yard box, but his effort did not produce the expected result.

In the 15th minute of the first half, Italian-based Flying Eagles playmaker Victor Eletu opted to shoot even with a better option on his right foot, but the Italian goalkeeper easily saved his shot.

In the 20th minute, the Italians fought back,but their attempt hit the crossbar of the Flying Eagles goal post.

Flying  Eagles Salim Fago Lawal had a shot from close range in the 30th minute of the first half, but his shot was saved by Italian goalkeeper Sebastiano Desplanches.

In the 37th minute of the half, a Nigerian defender visibly handled the ball inside the eighteen-yard box, but the match referee, Piero Maza, overlooked the obvious penalty.

The referee had earlier overlooked a Nigerian penalty when an Italian defender handled the ball inside his team’s 18-yard box.

The Flying Eagles almost conceded a goal in the dying moments of the first half,but Flying Eagles goalkeeper Chijoke Anigboso was brave to save the long-range effort of the Ltalians.

The first half ended scoreless for the two teams.

On the resumption of the second half, Flying Eagles Coach Ladan Bosso made two tactical changes with the substitution of Tochukwu Nnadi for Samson Lawal, the scorer of Nigeria’s second goal against the Dominican Republic, and Emmanuel Umeh for Ibrahim Muhammed.

With the tactical changes, Flying Eagles marksman Jude Sunday almost scored the curtain raiser in the 51st minute of the second half, but the Italian defense rallied round to quickly ward off any danger.

In the 61st minute of the second half, Salim Fago Lawal struck with a textbook header after a yeo-man’s job by Emmanuel Umeh.

Emmanuel Umeh had been hacked down by an Italian defender, and without waiting for a possible penalty call, he quickly picked himself up and floated a cross to Salim Fago Lawal, who nodded in for the Flying Eagles first goal of the match.

Flying Eagles marksman Sunday Jude sent Nigerians into wild evening celebrations with the second goal in the fifth minute of second-half extra time after receiving an assist from Chijoke Kingsley Anigboso.

With a round of 16 ticket and six points after the 2-0 victory against the almighty Italians and 2-1 against the Dominican Republic in the on-going U-20 World Cup in Argentina, the stage is now set for the final group D battle against Nigeria’s familiar foes, Brazil, on Saturday, May 27, 2023, at Estadio Ciudad de la Plata, Argentina, at 7:00 p.m. Nigerian time.

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About the Author

Obum Akawor
A retired Senior Civil Servant and sports journalist. A Fellow, Chartered Institute of Administration, FCAI.

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