Five-time world champions Golden Eaglets of Nigeria will start as favourites when they confront Netherlands in tonight’s Round of 16 clash at the ongoing FIFA U17 World Cup finals in Brazil.
The Golden Eaglets topped their Group B after winning two matches (defeated Hungary 4-2 and Ecuador 3-2) and losing one (1-2 to Australia). Victories over Hungary and Ecuador were obtained at the Estadio Olimpico while the loss to Australia was in Brasilia.
Now, the Nigerian youngsters are back at the familiar surroundings of Estadio Olimpico and will go all out for victory against the Dutch tonight.
Nigeria forward Ibrahim Sa’id is the only player to have scored a hat-trick in Brazil so far, and team captain, Samson Tijani, has also weighed in with two goals – both against Hungary in a tough-as-nails opener.
Olakunle Olusegun, Akinkunmi Amoo and Wisdom Ubani are yet to be among the goal scorers and look forward to the game against the Dutch to make their mark.
Head Coach, Manu Garba, told the world media in Brazil yesterday that the will to win is part of Nigeria’s DNA, and the Class of 2019 is no exception.
However, his Eaglets must overcome the disappointment of the unexpected loss to Australia in their final group game, and seize the encounter with the Dutch by the scruff rather than wait for any comeback performance.
“We will look to have the initiative from the beginning against the Netherlands. This is the knockout stage and falling behind at any stage could be tricky,” admitted captain Tijani.
Tuesday’s clash will start at 8pm Brazil time (midnight in Nigeria).
The Netherlands finished third on the log in Group D Tajikistan had a massive five-goal deficit despite also having three points and could therefore not make the mark to play Group A top finisher, Brazil.
Chile will face Brazil in Round of 16 while The Netherlands face Nigeria. It will be the first time ever both Nigeria and The Netherlands will be meeting in the 34-year old competition.
BRAZIL 2019 ROUND OF 16 MATCHES
Tuesday: Angola Vs Korea Republic; Nigeria Vs Netherlands
Wednesday: Japan Vs Mexico; Spain Vs Senegal; Brazil Vs Chile; France Vs Australia
Thursday: Ecuador Vs Italy; Paraguay Vs Argentina