How the Flying Eagles plotted host Argentina’s ouster from FIFA U-20 World Cup

Nigeria’s Flying Eagles delivered a stunning 2-0 defeat to the Argentine Under 20 team in the Round of 16 match at the ongoing FIFA U-20 World Cup in Argentina

Jimoh Amodu

Almost all its fans have written them off, but the youngsters and their coach rose to the challenge and put smiles on the faces of Nigeria. Yes, the Flying Eagles, the Nigerian U-20 team, achieved a stunning victory in their Round of 16 match to send the hosts Argentina to move into the quarterfinal stage of the ongoing FIFA U-20 World Cup.

Second-half goals from Ibrahim Muhammad and Haliru Sarki saw the team booking a date with either Ecuador or South Korea in the next round.

Though the Flying Eagles were the underdogs in the Argentina clash as they qualify as one of the Best Third place teams, they played a game that made many give them respect.

Analysts and critics believed the Flying Eagles’ victory was a result of the good execution of a great tactical plan by the team’s coach, Ladan Bosso and his players with a little bit of luck.

The team in the match executed a total defensive strategy that had the players executing a strict man-marking plan rather than a space-marking tactic as each Flying Eagle had an Argentine player assigned to be marked respectively.  Each player also rose to the occasion each time to assist a displaced colleague.

Playing a 4-2-3-1 format, strikers Ibrahim Muhammad and Jude Sunday, though operated as wingers were also active in the defence of the team against the attacking Argentines. Lawal Fago was left as the centre as a lone attacker.

This strategy paid up handsomely for the team as evident in some last-minute defensive works done by the attackers, sometimes even acting as the last wall of defence in the match.

It was also a match that saw a Nigerian playing a disciplined defence game, which is usually absent in many Nigerian teams. The Back Six was great in the match, especially the fullback duo of Daniel Bameyi and Solomon Agbalaka, who stayed within the defensive zone throughout the match to ward off the rampaging Argentines. And on their part, the other four in the Back Six played a tactical game that helped to hold the Argentine wingers and midfielders as well as limit their attacks to the centre of the field for most of the game, thereby reducing the usual flank play strategy of the hosts. The Argentines, who were the group winner in the First Round, scoring some fantastic goals from crosses could not enact this play in their match against Nigeria.

Another glaring characteristic of the Flying Eagles’ game in the match was the players’ confidence. The players played with gusto showing no inferiority complex to the Argentines. Maybe they are fully aware of what is at stake in their respective careers and the country. This psychological state of the players  a long way in determining the final result of the match and which team moved progress to the next stage of the competition.

And the Nigerians also have to thank their stars at some critical moments in the match when the Argentines were dangerous as they hunted for goals. Goalkeeper Chijioke Aniagboso was a rock in between the Flying Eagles’ ggoalpostsas he withstood all the Argentines threw at his goal area.

The Argentines had more than 15 attempts at goal but Aniagboso and his defence held on, stoutly defending while at times they were assisted by mother luck.

All in all, it was a victory well deserved by the determined talented Nigerians.

Haliru Sarki’s flying header in the dying minutes of the match all sum up the performance of the team in the historic victory over Argentina. The team and its coach deserved the joyous celebration that erupted after the referee blew the final whistle.

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