U-20 World Cup: Nigeria Beat Saudi Arabia 2-0, Set Up 2nd Round Clash With England


Nigeria’s Flying Eagles were emphatic in their determination to top the table in Group D in the FIFA U-20 World Cup going on in Colombia as they beat Saudi Arabia 2-0 early today to garner 9 points from three matches.

Fifa.com reports that John Obuh and his boys needed only a draw to take first place in the group, but not diverging from their typical attacking displays beat Saudi Arabia to stamp authority on their fine group campaign and set up a Round of 16 encounter with England. The Saudis, on the other hand, will meet Brazil.

Nigeria’s coach, Obuh described the victory and the unbeaten run in the group as his team’s resolve to send a signal to other teams in the World Youth Championship, WYC, that they are in Colombia to claim the elusive title.

“By the end of the group phase, we’ve proven that we’ve got a good team. We’ve been able to finish in first place in the group and we’ve shown our quality today and since the start of the tournament,” he said.

“The physical side of the game was important today, but we also had to be the better team tactically. My players’ attitude was exemplary, they never stopped trying to attack. It’s a long process to get to this stage.

“The team have been working together for a long time and of course our goal is to keep progressing and be successful in the long term.

“But for the time being I’m not looking any further than our next match, and I know that there are some great teams standing between us and the title, such as Brazil, Argentina and Colombia,” Obuh told fifa.com after the match.

While conceding the group leadership position to the hard-fighting Flying Eagles, Khalid Alkoroni, Saudi Arabia’s coach praised the Nigerian team for their doggedness and fighting spirit.

“First of all, I’d like to congratulate Nigeria on this victory and on winning the group,” he said.

“We played well but Nigeria are more experienced and physically stronger. They made the most of their chances and turned them into goals.

“As for us, we rushed things too much in front of goal, and we got over excited rather than staying composed. Our main focus is midfield, where we have players who know how to use the ball.

“In two matches we’ve scored eight goals via seven different players, but we’re still going to try and solve the attacking problems we experienced today.

“We won’t need to motivate the lads for the next match, that’ll happen on its own accord, but first of all we need to analyse this defeat and learn lessons from it to make sure we don’t repeat the same mistakes,” he said.

Fifa.com reports that the Nigerians in standard form committed numbers forward, but it was Saudi Arabia who had the first chance. With just two minutes gone, Saudi defender Salam Aldawsari tested Nigerian goalkeeper, Dami Paul, but the keeper was threatened little by the attempt.

There was little in the way of goalmouth action, despite a dangerous shot from Uche Nwofor in the 18th minute. The striker’s effort deflected off a Saudi defender and nearly found its way into the back of the net.

Saudi Arabia settled into a counter attacking approach, and on 30 minutes Ali Alzubaldi sent in a fine cross from the right wing, but Yahya Dagriri narrowly missed the chance to tap home. And after a free-kick opportunity for Nigeria, Dagriri received the clearance to counter with pace. Nearly surprising Paul, the No.7 tried his luck with shot from the left side.

Dagriri was then left cursing his efforts as he missed what could and should have been a goal for Saudi Arabia. Salem Aldawsari found the forward unmarked in the area, but he ballooned his golden opportunity over the crossbar.

Nigeria quickly punished Dagriri for the miss too, as Omoh Ojabu passed behind to Ahmed Musa from inside the area, and the No.7 fired a rocket past Abdullah Alsdairy to take a one-goal lead into the break.

Saudi Arabia searched for an equaliser at the start of the second half, but a dangerous free-kick from Abdullah Otayf was denied by Paul. Omoh Ojabu was pressing at the other end, troubling the Saudi defence, although was unable to get a powerful shot off.

On 80 minutes, Saudi Arabia nearly had the equaliser they desperately needed when Nigeria keeper Paul mishandled a simple back pass. The keeper scrambled and ultimately saved himself from the tragic fate of scoring an owl goal.

In the final ten minutes, Nigeria pushed to double their lead and ensure a first place finish atop of the group. Olarenwaju Kayode put the game out of reach, pushing a fine volley pass from Nwofor into the back of Alsdairy’s net.

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