It will be a clash of third-bests when Nigeria’s Flying Eagles clash with Uruguay in a FIFA U20 World Cup Round of 16 game on Tuesday night.
The Flying Eagles finished third at the African Youth Championship in Algeria in April and Uruguay also placed third in the South American version of the qualifiers.
And at Turkey 2013, both teams started out on a losing note before they rallied to two straight wins to finish runners-up in their respective first round groups.
Tuesday match will be the second time that Nigeria will be playing inside the Ali Sami Arena, the home ground of top Turkish club Galatasaray, while it will be a first for their South American foes.
Uruguay have also had to endure a trip from Antalya to Istanbul leading up to this match, while Nigeria have stayed back after their win over against South Korea to sample more of the joys of Turkey’s commercial capital city.
Los Charruas, as Uruguay are known, best performance in this competition was when they reached the final of 1997 final, where they lost to hosts Argentina 2-1.
They finished third in 1979, fourth in 1977 and have reached the last eight on three further occasions.
However in their last three appearances, they twice crashed out in the Round of 16 and exited the 2011 edition in the first round.
Uruguay’s qualification for the 2013 tournament was boosted by a 3-2 win over world champions Brazil, who as a result are not in Turkey to defend their championship.
They parade several players from overseas like striker Bentancourt from Dutch club PSV Eindhoven and Amores, who is on the books of EPL side Liverpool.
“They are a dangerous side,” warned Nigeria assistant coach Jurgen Press, who along with the rest of the squad watched them outscore a more organised Uzbekistan in their final group game to qualify for the knockout stage of the competition.
“But we want to be the team that will be in Bursa for the quarterfinal on Saturday.”
Mali coach Moussa Keita, whose team played out a 1-1 draw with Uruguay before the World Cup, has warned of a dangerous strike force led by Diego Rolan but added that the South Americans struggle with high crosses launched into their goal area.
Both teams clashed at an invitational tournament in 2011 in South Korea with Olanrewaju Kayode and Philemon Daniel getting the Flying Eagles goals in a badly tempered 2-2 draw.
A lot more is at stake on Tuesday night and there must be a clear winner this time.
Kick-off time is 7pm Nigerian time.
– Sola Rogers (Twitter – @solarogers)
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