Former Super Eagles assistant coach, Fatai Folrunsho Amoo (Arsenal) has warned players and coaches of the youth national team, Flying Eagles to avoid underrating their group opponents at the FIFA U-20 World Cup.
Although Amoo admitted that last weekend’s draw, which pooled Coach Paul Osahon Aigbogun’s side in Group D alongside Qatar, Ukraine and USA, appears easy for Nigeria, but insists they must not be overconfident.
The Flying Eagles qualified for the tournament, despite finishing fourth at the recent 2019 Africa U-20 Cup of Nations in Niger Republic, and Amoo says they will need to be on their toes during the Youth Mundial, in which Nigeria placed second twice – in 1989 and 2005.
In 1989, Nigeria lost to Portugal in Saudi Arabia and in 2005 Argentina beat the Flying Eagles, who won bronze in the Soviet Union in 1985, when they defeated the host nation on penalties in the third place match.
For this year’s edition in Poland, Nigeria will open their Group D action against Qatar, then face United States before finishing against Ukraine.
Among their group rivals this year, the Flying Eagles defeated USA in the semi finals of Saudi ’89, when two goals by Mutiu Adepoju took Nigeria to a first ever final.
Another of Nigeria’s Group D opponents, Qatar, shocked the world in 1981, when they reached the final in Australia, but lost to West Germany.
On the other hand, Ukraine, who Nigeria beat 1-0 during the group stage at Holland 2005, qualified for Poland 2019 with a top-four placement at the 2018 UEFA European U-19 Championship in Finland.
Subsequently, Amoo warned that, although many observers would say the three group opponents lack strong pedigrees in the competition, it is always wise for any squad to take their opponents with all seriousness.
Amoo posited: “We look at our group opponents and say they do not have rich pedigrees in this level of competition.
“Yes, the group is surmountable, but that does not mean we should take things for granted.
“We must not be over confident. We must not underrate our opponents, because they also want top win.
“We have to prepare well and face all the matches with the seriousness they deserve. With good approach, the Flying Eagles can win the cup.”