Nigeria’s U-20 team, Flying Eagles will today start the race to the 2019 FIFA U-20 World Cup in Poland as they take on the Junior Itamba of Burundi in their first Group A match.
Flying Eagles on Thursday stormed Niamey, Niger Republic for the start of this year’s African U-20 Cup of Nations which kicks off today.
Senegal, Mali, Burkina Faso and Ghana are in Group B of the continental youth competition, from which all four semi-finalists will qualify for the 2019 FIFA U-20 World Cup in Poland.
Niger Republic are debutantes whilst Burundi are making a return after their historic exploits in 1995, when they lost to Cameroon in the final.
Seven-time winners, Nigeria are staging a return after missing the last edition that was hosted by Zambia in 2017.
The Flying Eagles were initially scheduled for a friendly away to Saudi Arabia last Tuesday, to cap their build-up programme, but the match was postponed until after the U-20 AFCON.
The Flying Eagles will take on South Africa in their second match next Tuesday and before playing host country, Niger Republic in their last group game on Friday.
Niger kick off the tournament against South Africa in the capital Niamey and would be hoping to build on their participation at the 2017 U-17 World Cup in India when they registered their first-ever goal in a FIFA competition.
Niger will not be expected to play a major role in the competition as more traditional heavyweights of the African youth game will battle for four tickets to the U-20 World Cup in Poland later this year. The four semi-finals will all seal their ticket for the global showdown.
The top two of each group progress to the last four. The final comes up in Niamey on February 17.
Niger, South Africa, Nigeria, Burundi
Senegal, Mali, Burkina Faso, Ghana