Nigeria will hope to beat Cuba on Monday to get their U20 World Cup campaign back on track after an opening day 3-2 loss to Portugal.
Two-time champions Portugal denied the Flying Eagles a great comeback
on Monday night, when Bruma scored the winning goal two minutes after skipper Abduljaleel Ajagun’s superb strike had drawn Nigeria level
Cuba too were denied at least a point when South Korea came from a goal down to win 2-1, meaning both Nigeria and Cuba go into their second game of the championship in search of their first points in Turkey.
The Flying Eagles were on Saturday spurred on by the visit of director of finance from the sports ministry Mustapha Mohammed, who encouraged the team to rise to the occasion against Cuba.
“You fought well against Portugal, but we expect you to win against Cuba and go on to qualify for the next round of the competition,” urged Mohammed, who was accompanied by Bolaji Oja-oba and Abdulkadir Ma’azu.
The six-time African champions are expected to ring some changes in midfield and attack as they go for broke.
on Monday afternoon.
Defensive midfielder Moses Orkuma is expected to join the fray along with Ovbokha Agboyi as coach John Obuh reverts to his preference for two holding midfielders.
Sporting Braga-bound Chidi Osuchukwu disappointed against Portugal and may likely lose his first-team place.
Obuh has admitted Cuba are unknown quantity, but assistant coach Yakubu Maidajin was dispatched to watch their opening game against Cuba and should have some useful information about this island-nation.
The Flying Eagles are on a daily allowance of $100 and a win bonus of $2,000-a-man compared to Cuba, who are paid a daily allowance of $8 each and do not get a match bonus.
Debutants Cuba said it was a dream to qualify for Turkey 2013.
“It was our dream to go to Turkey. This is victory for Cuban football. We will try our best to prove ourselves,” said president of Cuba Football Federation Luis Hernandez.
They accounted for Nicaragua, Canada and Costa Rica to reach the semi-finals of the CONCACAF U20 Championship, where they lost 2-0 to USA and finished fourth to qualify for the World Cup.
They play a 4-4-2 formation and are physically strong and athletic and in striker Alejandro Reyes they have an imposing striker, while Luis Saez is the organiser in midfield.
Kick-off time is
4pm Nigerian time.
– Sola Rogers (Twitter – @solarogers)