ENGLAND WILL FALL - F/EAGLES
The Flying Eagles laboured to a 2-0 victory over Saudi Arabia to finish winners of Group D with the maximum nine points from three matches Saturday night at the Estadio Monumental Hernan Ramirez Villegas in Pereira, Colombia.
The winner of the Nigeria vs England match-up will battle in the quarterfinal the winner of the second round fixture involving Ecuador and France.
UNSTOPPABLE•••Saudi Arabia's Ali Alzubaidi (L) tries in vain to stop Nigeria's Ahmed Musa during their FIFA Under-20 World Cup last Group D match held at Hernan Ramirez Villegas Stadium in Pereira . Nigeria won 2-0 . Photo: AFP
'Our focus is now on the England game on Wednesday. As much as we respect all the teams left in this tournament, we hope to win to qualify for the quarterfinal,' said coach John Obuh after a match watched by over 14,000 spectators.
England are in Colombia without several of their top stars from the English Premier League after their clubs refused to release them for the competition.
Despite these absentees like Jack Wilshire of Arsenal, England have held their own with three scoreless draws in a strong group that also had Mexico and Argentina.
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Both Ahmed Musa and Olanrewaju Kayode were on target for Nigeria against the Saudis to take their personal tallies at Colombia 2011 to three goals each.
'We have a great team and we remain on track to becoming world champions after we beat the best in Africa,' said Musa.
Asec Mimosas striker Kayode dusted himself from a horrific second-half tackle that saw him pass out for a few terrifying seconds to score his third goal of the U20 World Cup.
'This is a very important tournament for my career because we will win the World Cup,' said the tireless forward.
'I'm very focussed at this competition after I did not do as well as believe I could do at the U17 World Cup two years ago. This time I'm ready.
'After this World Cup, I believe I will be playing in Europe, where I would prefer to play in either England or France.'
Obuh praised Kayode for brining urgency and purpose to the Junior Eagles strike force.
'We were slow tactically and the players were indifferent today, but the changes we made brought life to the attack and that helped us to win the game.'
Saudi coach, Khalid Alkoroni, lamented his team's poor finishing.
'We had a great chance late in the first half, but we could not convert it. Nigeria got theirs almost immediately and they took it,' said Alkoroni, whose players did not observe the Ramadan fasting as it was 'bought' for them by their football federation.
England expect first goal against Nigeria
England will be aim ing to score their first tournament goal in their round of 16 match against the Flying Eagles of Nigeria at the ongoing FIFA U-20 World CupWednesday.
Playing in Group E, alongside Argentina, Mexico and Korea DPR, England played threeconsecutive goaless draws. They survived the first round because they did not concede a goal in the three matches played.
That is against the Flying Eagles fairy-tale ride in the competition. Coach John Obuh's team scored 12 goals in the group matches and conceded only 2. As England were playing their third goaless draw against Mexico, the Flying Eagles were busy thumping a hard-fighting Saudi Arabia 2-0.
All things being equal, the Nigerian team which has exhibited the most potent attack in the tournament so far, would be attempting to continue from where they left off in their last group match against the Saudis.
But the England team has shown a lot of character in the defence that they are yet to concede a goal in the competition so far.
The England coach, Brian Eastick is desperate to see his side score the first goal in the tournament.
'If we don't qualify, it would obviously be a failure. At the same time, you can't deny that this team has always tried to play good football, nor take away the experience these players are gaining from the tournament.' We are here without many of our Youth Stars but the ones here have learnt a lot. We need to score against Nigeria or we are out. We'll be out to score.