Flying Eagles head coach Paul Aigbogun has announced his first 11 players to start the match against Ukraine today in the FIFA U20 World Cup.
At the heart of the defence, Rosenborg starlet Igho Ogbu makes his first start of the tournament, and he is to partner Aliu Salawudeen in the heart of defence, leaving out Valentine Ozornwafor.
In attack, Success Makanjuola has done enough to earn a shirt in the line up, and will form an imperious strike-force with Tijani Mohammed and Effiom Maxwell.
Enyimba left back Ikouwem Utin will skipper the team, with Aniekeme Okon, Kingsley Michael and Nnamdi Ofoborh holding forth at the midfield.
After a below par outing against Team USA in Bielsko-Biala on Monday night, Nigeria’s U20 boys know they must earn a result against group leaders Ukraine at the same venue on Thursday to prolong their stay at the FIFA U20 World Cup in Poland.
Although they already have a spot in the Round of 16, Ukraine could still finish third on the log and be condemned to face the first–placed team in Group B (race still between Italy and Japan). That is, if they lose to Nigeria and USA, on three points as Nigeria, racks up a big win over Qatar.
Both teams go toe-to-toe at the Bielsko-Biala Stadium as from 7.30pm Nigeria time on Thursday, with the Flying Eagles determined to take the game to their opponents and get a win.
However, Paul Aigbogun’s boys will do well to avoid the kind of lethargic start they contrived against USA, and put together more fluent attacking moves complemented by clinical finishing.
If they end up as group D winners, the Flying Eagles will travel back to Tychy to play a third –placed team in the Round of 16 on Monday. If they finish in second place, they would be off to Bydgoszcz to play the winner of group E (which has another African flagbearer Mali, as well as France, Panama and Saudi Arabia). And if they end up as one of the best third –placed teams, they would be off to Lodz to play the winner of group B.
Whatever their game plan for Thursday night’s encounter, Aigbogun’s wards must watch out for Ukraine’s Denys Popov, who has scored two of the Ukrainian side’s three goals at the championship so far, as well as Serhi Buletsa, who scored one of their goals against USA.
Nigeria XI Vs Ukraine: Olawale Oremade, Mohammed Zulkifilu, Ikouwem Utin (c), Nnamdi Ofoborh, Igho Ogbu, Aliu Salawudeen, Aniekeme Okon, Kingsley Michael, Tijani Mohammed, Maxwell Effiom, Success Makanjuola