Utin, Offia, Zacalla Lead Flying Eagles’ Charge

Nigeria’s youth national team, Flying Eagles’ captain, Ikouwm Udoh Utin is leading the battle cry for success at this month’s FIFA U-20 World Cup in Poland, with in-form striker, Henry Okechukwu Offia and reserve goalkeeper, Jonathan Zacalla joining his battle cry.

Utin led the charge for glory on Sunday, as the Flying Eagles left their pre-championship base at Bad Gogging, Germany to Poland, where they will open against Qatar on Friday, before also playing USA and Ukraine.

All the players were beaming with smiles, as they landed in Poland, after rounding off a three-week training spell at Bad Gogging on the outskirts of Munich, from where they flew out on Sunday morning.

While in Bad Grogging, the team played four friendly games, of which they started with a 3-3 draw against SC Freiburg U19s, then suffered a 2-1 loss to Saudi Arabia U20s.

They then followed their only defeat with a 3-1 win over a German lower division club, AfR Aelen and ended their build-up games with a 1-1 draw with Red Bull Salzburg of Austria.

Utin told that the camping exercise in Germany helped the team blend very well, and says they are now in the right frame of mind to go all out in the hunt for glory to take back home to Nigeria after it all.

“Our time in Germany has really helped us to come together as a group, blend with one another as well as learn new things from our coaches.

“The boys now understand one another better and we have perfected our plans as we go into the tournament.

“We want to make Nigeria proud in Poland and we will do our best not to disappoint Nigerians.

“Our aim is to go all out and win the trophy for Nigeria. It has been a wonderful experience here in camp.

“We also want to thank the NFF and Nigerians for their support and we will go there and represent Nigeria well,” Utin enthused

Adding to his captain’s words, Offia, who plays for IK Sirius of Sweden, said he is optimistic that the team will go far in Poland 2019, as he reckones all lessons learned in camp will help them actualise their aim.

He also spoke of his personal ambitions with the side, and pledged to give his very best efforts in helping the squad shine bright in Poland.

Offia added: “It will be a tough competition no doubt but we are determined to go out there and make Nigeria proud.

“I’m grateful for this opportunity and I’ll make best use of it. I’m really happy and grateful to be part of this team.

“This is my first time with any of the national teams and I’ll do my best not to disappointment in any way at all.

“We’ve had a good time in camp, learned a lot from the coaches and hopefully we put all into practice in Poland.”

Same went for 17-year-old Zacalla, who added that the team will give their best in Poland.

Zacalla, who plays for Triestina of Italy, also told that the camping exercise has helped develop his game which hopefully will translate to a good outing in Poland.

Zacalla submitted: “The camping exercise was tough but I enjoyed every bit of it. It was a good experience for me and the other players.

“I’m hopeful of a good outing in Poland and will continue to work hard to make it happen.

“Our coaches have done a lot in training and I hope we can use that to good effect when the U20 competition starts.”

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