The Flying Eagles will begin their U-20 World Cup campaign with a tricky Group D opening fixture against the Dominican Republic.
The highly anticipated fixture is billed for the Estadio Malvinas Argentinas in Mendoza, Argentina on Sunday (today) and it is the first encounter between both countries at any competitive level.
Nigeria, seven time African champions and a two-time finalist at the U-20 World Cup, qualified for the tourney after easing to a 4-0 victory over Tunisia in the third place match at the 17th Africa Cup of Nations in Egypt in March.
Dominican Republic on their part, made history qualifying for their first ever FIFA World Cup at any level after they reached the semi-final of the Concacaf U-20 Championship following a 1-0 win over Jamaica in the quarter-finals.
While Nigeria will be desperate to build on their impressive pre-tournament form, the Quisqueyano will be eager to prove their mettle and potentially cause an upset in their debut appearance at the tournament.
Dominican Republic have lost their last five games – against Ecuador (3-0), Argentina (0-4), Uzbekistan (0-3), Iraq (3-2) and Brazil (1-0).
But despite their winless run, the Flying Eagles coach, Ladan Bosso, has vowed that his side won’t underrate the debutants but will go with full confidence into picking all three points when it takes on Sunday evening.
“As I stated earlier, we are happy with the results from the two friendly matches we played in Buenos Aires,” Bosso said.
“We won one against an Argentina club and then drew with the Colombia U-20 team that’s also taking part in this tournament. Those are not bad results.
“More than anything else, what the results have done is to give us confidence that we can get the job done. Victory over Dominican Republic on Sunday (today) will stabilise our winning mentality. It is a factor that matters in championships and that is why we are determined to win on Sunday.”
Bosso will most likely opt for the squad that started the friendly against Colombia in Buenos Aires last Tuesday, with Chijioke Aniagbosos in goal, Daniel Bameyi, Solomon Agbalaka, Abel Ogwuche and Benjamin Frederick in defence, with Ibrahim Muhammad, Samson Lawal and Jude Sunday upfront. However, Emmanuel Umeh, who was among the scorers in both friendlies, could start against the Dominican Republic.
Meanwhile, AC Milan U-19 star, Victor Eletu, may sit out Sunday encounter after he only joined up with the Flying Eagles squad late.
It was learnt that midfielder Eletu was only released by Milan after he played an U-19 game Wednesday before he headed out to South America.
The Flying Eagles will take on Italy in a second group game on Wednesday.