The Flying Eagles will fancy their chances against Italy on Wednesday (today) in Group D of the ongoing U-20 World Cup in Argentina.
Both sides battle at the Estadio Malvinas Argentina from 3pm local time (7pm Nigerian time).
The Nigerians managed a 2-1 win over debutants Dominican Republic in their opening game but know that they have a mountain to climb when they battle their European foes today.
The Italians were on rampage in a rapturous first half that saw Brazil eventually crumble to a 3-2 loss in Mendoza on Sunday, and since then, the name on the lips of many at the ongoing U-20 World Cup in Argentina has been Italy.
With a near-full house at the Estadio Malvinas Argentina roaring them on with vintage support, they swarmed all over the Brazilians and did a perfect job, scoring three goals in 45 minutes.
However, head coach Ladan Bosso says the Flying Eagles will not be immersed in admiring the moves of the Italians but would rather take the fight to the youthful Azzurris in Wednesday’s (today) clash between both teams at the same venue.
“We stayed back after our match against the Dominican Republic to watch the Italy match against Brazil, and we took a lot of notes from there. The Italians have the midfield machinery to outrun any team that is flustered by their pace and organisation, but we will know how to deal with that.
“We have the boys who can neutralise their mortal armoury and deliver some blows of our own. Wednesday’s encounter will be interesting. We will respect them but we don’t fear any team at this championship.”
Flying Eagles captain, Daniel Bameyi, an unused substitute in the first game, believes that the Italians are beatable despite their win over South American champions and pre-tournament favourites Brazil in their opener.
“The next opponents beat Brazil and we were opportune to watch the first half. Any team that can beat Brazil will not be an easy team, but we are Nigerians and not scared of anybody, and we know every team is beatable no matter how you play.”
Technical Director of the NFF, Augustine Eguavoen, told thenff.com that the manner in which the Flying Eagles set up on Wednesday, and the level of concentration and adherence to game-plan, would matter a lot on the day.
“The Italians are a good side but nothing is given in football until a match is played and ends. It is about the set-up, about the structure of your team and how much you bring to bear what you have noticed about the other team. I’m happy our coaches saw the Italians play the Brazilians and it is now left for us all to put our heads together and devise a winning plan.”
The Italians top Group D ahead of the Flying Eagles only as a result of having scored more goals, and the race to the Round of 16 is already fierce with Brazil most likely to edge the Dominican Republic in the other match of the pool today evening.
“Our mantra is full concentration and once we achieve that and follow through with our game-plan, we will get a result,” added Bosso.