As the 19th edition of the FIFA U-20 World Cup begins in Turkey, the Flying Eagles will be making their ninth appearance at the tournament with a match against Portugal.
The game in Kayseri is the second of the group, as the match between Cuba and Korea Republic will precede it.
Among African countries that have participated at the tournament, Nigeria holds the best record with three semi-final appearances, beaten finalists in 1989 and 2005, third in 1985.
The Flying Eagles will be making their fifth consecutive appearance at the event in Turkey.
They have not failed to qualify from the group stage in those appearances and it is the immediate task that Kayode Olanrewaju, Aminu
Umar and the rest of the squad must try to emulate.
Goalkeeper Chukwunenye Okani would need constant protection from his defenders as coach John Obuh would count on Onyinye Ndidi, Moses Orkuma, Abdullahi Shehu and Ikechukwu Okorie to do the job in the Flying Eagles defence.
Like their African opponents that finished third at the African championship, Portugal qualified for Turkey 2013 thanks to their
third-placed finish in Group A at the 2012 UEFA European U-19 Championship in Estonia.
The Portuguese have won the tournament twice in the past.
A Luis Figo inspired Portugal U-20 side thrashed the Flying Eagles 2-0 to win the 1989 edition in Saudi Arabia.
The Coach Edgar Borges’ side are blessed with great attacking talents as their good performances helped them in scoring 37 goals in their qualifying matches, the best among the teams in Turkey 2013.
This has made them to be one of the favourites to win the competition.
Portugal is set to unleash their key players on the Flying Eagles.
Some of them are Ricardo Esgaio, Bruma and Tiago Abiola Ilori, who is of Nigerian descent.
Nigeria’s strength in the midfield may pave the way for them at the tournament as Olaitan Michael, Abduljeleel Ajagun, Chidi Osuchukwu and Dumte Pyagbara are set to make their inclusions count in Turkey.
Meanwhile, the tournament’s official curtain raiser in Kayseri marks Cuba’s debut on the global stage at this level, as they take on Korea Republic.
While the Cubans have their sights set on more than merely winning over the neutrals, the Asians are focusing on going through a FIFA U-20 World Cup group stage unbeaten for a second time.
The first instance came at the 1993 tournament edition, although the Koreans’ three consecutive draws were not enough to reach the next round.
The 2013 tournament marks the first time in the history of the tournament in which neither Brazil nor Argentina (the most successful
teams in the competition) have qualified, with it also being only the second time that Brazil does not take part (the first being in the
In the 18 tournaments held so far, only eight nations have won the title.
Argentina is the most successful team with six titles, followed by Brazil with five titles.
Portugal won two titles, while Ghana, Germany, Spain, and formerly existing nations, Soviet Union and Yugoslavia, have won the title once each.