Nigeria will go for a win in Thursday’s final U20 World Cup Group B match against South Korea to earn automatic passage to the round of 16.
The Flying Eagles are third in the standings with three points from two matches with Korea second on four points.
Portugal are top also on four points but are widely expected to crush bottom team Cuba to go through.
So, it is really a battle for second place between Nigeria and Korea, which the Flying Eagles aim to win.
“We have to beat South Korea on Thursday,” declared Nigeria U20 assistant coach Jurgen Press.
“We don’t want to subject ourselves to the lottery of finishing as one of the four third best teams going into the next round.”
Second place in Group B will also ensure the Flying Eagles stay put in Istanbul to take on the runners-up of Group F, which has Uzbekistan, Croatia, Uruguay and New Zealand.
The Flying Eagles have detailed information about their Thursday’s opponents having watched them at the recent Toulon Tournament as well as at their first two games here in Turkey.
The entire stayed back to watch the first half of Monday’s pulsating 2-2 draw between Korea and Portugal in Kayseri.
They are a very organised, technical team with great stamina and are mentally strong.
Korea are the most consistent team from Asia at the U20 World Cup as this is their 13th appearance in the competition and they have qualified for the last six editions.
Their best result in this tournament was achieved 30 years ago in Mexico when they reached the semi-finals before they were edged out by eventual champions Brazil 2-1.
The class of 2012 won the Asian U19 championship courtesy of a win after a penalty shootout against Iraq. The last time the country won this competition was in 2004.
They barely scraped a 2-1 win over Cuba in their opening game in Turkey, but stepped up their game against two-time champions Portugal in their next game to earn a draw.
Nigeria defence will therefore face a major test as they will come face-to-face with a well-oiled attack led by Hyun Kim and Seungwoo Ryu.
Both Kim and Ryu were on target in the surprise draw with Portugal and will again fancy their chances against the six-time African champions.
– Sola Rogers (Twitter – @solarogers)
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