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U-20 FOOTBALL

Flying Eagles’ World Cup opponents emerge on Friday

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The path that the Nigeria Flying Eagles will navigate in their quest for the the FIFA U-20 World Cup trophy will be known this Friday as the draw for the final competition will hold at the Home of FIFA in Zurich.

The draw ceremony will begin at 3pm, Nigerian time. The qualified teams are: Argentina, Brazil, Colombia, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, England, Fiji, France, Guatemala, Honduras, Iraq, Israel, Italy, Japan, Korea Republic, New Zealand, Nigeria, Senegal, Slovakia, The Gambia, Tunisia, Uruguay, USA, Uzbekistan.

Already, the teams have been seeded and pots are allocated. Nigeria is in Pot 3 along with Uzbekistan, Japan, Iraq, Honduras and Fiji.

In essence, the Flying Eagles will be pitches along with any of the following who are in Pot 1 – Argentina, Uruguay, USA, France or Italy. The only definitive team in Pot 1 that Nigeria will not face in the group stage is Senegal.

Any of the following in Pot 2 will be drawn in the same group with Nigeria. They are England, Korea Republic, New Zealand, Brazil, Ecuador and Colombia.

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The Flying Eagles third opponent will be drawn among Guatemala, Dominican Republic, Israel and Slovakia.

Sam Johnson will present the draw, which will be conducted by FIFA Director of Tournaments Jaime Yarza. Argentinian Football Association (AFA) President Claudio Tapia will be present, along with a couple of FIFA Legends.

One team from each pot will be drawn into each of the six groups.

FIFA’s general principle is to ensure that no group has more than one team from the same confederation drawn into it.

The 24 teams will be drawn into six groups of four, with 16 of them advancing to the knockout phase.

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The tournament will begin on 20 May, the eve  of FIFA’s 119th anniversary and runs through to 11 June, the eve of Nigeria’s Democracy Day.

The Pots

Pot 1 – Argentina, Uruguay, USA, France, Senegal, Italy


Pot 2 – England, Korea Republic, New Zealand, Brazil, Ecuador, Colombia


Pot 3 – Nigeria, Uzbekistan, Japan, Iraq, Honduras, Fiji

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Pot 4 – Guatemala, Dominican Republic, The Gambia, Israel, Slovakia, Tunisia 

Kunle Solaja is the author of landmark books on sports and journalism as well as being a multiple award-winning journalist and editor of long standing. He is easily Nigeria’s foremost soccer diarist and Africa's most capped FIFA World Cup journalist, having attended all FIFA World Cup finals from Italia ’90 to Qatar 2022. He was honoured at the Qatar 2022 World Cup by FIFA and AIPS.

U-20 FOOTBALL

New champions to emerge as Uruguay, Italy contest U20 World Cup final

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Uruguay and Italy will play the final match of the U20 World Cup holding in Argentina. Uruguay beat Israel  1-0 while Italy defeated Korea Republic 2-1 in their respective semi-final matches played on Thursday night.

It is the first time that both countries will be playing the final match. Twelve countries have won the cup in the past.

Argentina with six titles and Brazil with five are the most winners followed by Portugal and Serbia with two victories.

The other eight have a title each. They are Ghana, Russia, Spain, Germany and England. The remaining are France, England and Ukraine.

In Thursday’s semi-finals, goals from Cesare Casadei and Simone Pafundi secured Italy the 2-1 win over Korea Republic.

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In the earlier semi-finals, a predator’s goal from Anderson Duarte grabbed Uruguay victory over Israel.

The final match will be played on Sunday night.

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U-20 FOOTBALL

Ladan Bosso: Twice beaten in U20 World Cup quarter finals after extra time

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What a cruel fate for Flying Eagles’ coach, Ladan Bosso at the quarter finals stage of the U20 World Cup in the Americas.

Sunday night after-extra-time loss to Korea Republic was not the first time he experienced the cruel fate.

Flashback to 16 years ago in Canada. His Flying Eagles held on gamely in their quarter-final duel with Chile at the Olympic Stadium in Montreal.

Scores at regulation time was 0-0. Then the match moved to extra time. Thereafter things fell apart and the centre could not hold.

A team that held the Chileans to 0-0 for 90 minutes suddenly fell like the Biblical Wall of Jericho.

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At the extra time, Bosso’s team crumbled miserably to a 4-0 defeat.

Again, his team has had to suffer another extra time defeat at the quarter-finals.

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U-20 FOOTBALL

How debutants, Israel sealed historic win over five-time winners, Brazil

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Debutants, Israel  will face either USA or Uruguay in the semi-finals of the 2023 FIFA U20 World Cup after they eliminated five-time champions, Brazil.

 Israel have become the first debutants to reach the semi-finals of a FIFA U-20 World Cup since Senegal in 2015.

An exquisite solo goal scored by Dor Turgeman saw debutants Israel come from behind to defeat Brazil 3-2 in an instant FIFA U-20 World Cup classic.

Israel will now play the USA-Uruguay winners in La Plata, while A Seleção will have to pack their bags for the journey home. Israel had the better of the first half, but Brazil had its best chance.

Following fine play from Savio down the right, Marquinhos’s effort from the back post, yards out, was kept out by the leg of Tomer Zarfati.

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 Marcos Leonardo’s excellent strike with his weaker left foot put Brazil ahead at the start of the second, but Anan Khalaili equalised with the header of this tournament.

Kaique then pulled off a superb save to deny Turgeman and send the game to extra time. Extra time held more drama and goals than your average 90-minute match.

Andrey Santos’s exquisite flick set up Matheus Nascimento to restore Brazil’s lead, but Hamza Shibli turned a cross in at the back post immediately to level things up again.

The decisive moment came at the end of the first half of extra time when Turgeman dribbled through Brazil’s defense before unleashing an unstoppable curler past Kaique.

An incredible second period of extra time saw Israel fail to score from the penalty spot twice, but Ofir Haim’s side were able to hold on and complete an historic victory.

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