Nigeria’s Flying Eagles delivered a bold statement of intent on Friday at the 2019 FIFA Under-20 World Cup with a 4-0 whipping of Qatar in their Group D opening match.
Nigeria, runners-up to a Portugal in 1989 and Argentina in 2005, raced to a 2-0 lead inside 25 minutes, with all thanks going to their left full back for both goals.
Ikouwem Utin deceived his marker and unleashed a swerving shot, which Shehab Mamdouh could only push into the path of Maxwell Effiom, whose first-time volley broke the deadlock.
Utin then somehow sprung four challenges down the left and cut the ball back to present Okechukwa Offia with a comfortable finish from close range.
Qatar did have their chances, with Zulkifilu Rabiu catapulting himself across the Tychy turf to make an outstanding block from Yusuf Abdurisag.
Flying Eagles goalkeeper Olawale Oremade was also alert to break up a three-on-one break from which the underdogs should have made more.
They were further punished, with esteemed Manchester City midfielder Tom Dele-Bashiru making it 3-0 before Aliu Salawudeen’s swivel and shot completed the rout.
The teams return to action on Monday, when Qatar face Ukraine and Nigeria take on the US.
In another match played at the competition, New Zealand produced the nation’s biggest win in FIFA U-20 World Cup history with a 5-0 rout of Honduras in a Group C fixture.
Darwin Diego inadvertently steered the ball into his own net just eight minutes into the match, and that unfortunate moment seemed to deflate Carlos Tabora’s side.
After that, New Zealand took full control of the match as Ben Waine had a brace to his name midway through the first half.
The second half continued in much a similar vein to the first.
New Zealand maintained their dominance with Sarpreet Singh and Matt Conroy adding a fourth and fifth goal to ensure the Kiwis made history to commence their Poland 2019 campaign.
Honduras will now take on Uruguay on Monday, while New Zealand face Norway on the same day.