FLYING EAGLES BEGIN ELUSIVE WORLD CUP CHASE
England and Korea DPR kickoff proceedings tonight as the FIFA Under-20 World Cup commences in eight cities across the south American nation of Colombia with Nigeria's Flying Eagles continuing their hunt for the trophy which has eluded the team since the tournament was first held in Tunisia in 1977.
Boasting of a rich history at the under-17 stage, the Nigerians are yet to pick the prized titles despite several attempts at the under-20 level and going by their recent performances in their tune-up games in the weeks leading to Colombia 2011, it appears that the long wait for the reigning African champions might just as well continue.
The first match of the competition, between England and Korea DPR starts 8.30pm Nigerian time in the city of Medellin, known as the City of Everlasting Spring, jump-starts a carnival of football fiesta. Medellin is the capital of Colombia's Antioquia department. Founded on 2 November 1675 it is currently home to some 2,223,000 inhabitants, making it the country's second-largest city.
Medellin is famed for the warmth of its citizens and is the only Colombian city to possess two airports. It also boasts Colombia's only mass transport urban metro, which includes connected bus and cable car services, known as Metroplus and Metrocable respectively.
Holding later tonight in Medellin is another Group F game between Argentina and Mexico while the city of Cartegena plays host to the Austria, Panama tie.
On Sunday, it would be the turn of Coach John Obuh and his Nigerian wards to prove doubters wrong when they take to the turf to tackle Guatemala in a Group D opener in the city of Armenia, which is dubbed 'The Miracle City' by the former Colombian president Guillermo Leon Valencia. Armenia is an attractive city with a population of nearly 300,000.
Founded on 14 October 1889 by Jesus Maria Ocampo and situated in the so-called 'coffee triangle' in the centre of the country, it is now the capital of Quindio, one of the nation's 32 provinces.
Obuh hopes his wards will quickly get over the drubbing they got at the Four-nation tournament held recently in Panama and put their foes to the sword in the game which holds 9pm Nigerian time.
Africa's other representatives, Mali, Cameroon, Egypt start their Colombia 2011 experience tomorrow. Mali play Korea Republic in Bogota, Cameroon tackle New Zealand in Cali while Egypt entertain Brazil in a match that fans would be looking out for in the city of Barranquilla.
The final match, which Nigerians are hoping their team will get to play, holds on August 21 in Bogota.