Flying Eagles’ Coach, John Obuh, has declared that today’s opening World Cup match against Portugal is a must-win one. The Nigerian Under-20s will take on their Portuguese counterparts from 7p.m Nigerian time at the beautiful Kayseri Kadir Has Stadium to kick start their 2013 World Cup campaign.
“This is our first game at the World Cup. It’s very crucial and a must-win match because a win will ease the pressure on the team and it will boost our confidence,” said Obuh, who is making his second appearance at the Under-20 World Cup.
“Victory today against what many regard as a good team from Portugal will give us qualification to the next round of the competition.” Two weeks ago, at the Toulon International Tournament in France, Portugal edged past Nigeria 2-1.
Incidentally, both teams also battled leading up to the 2011 World Cup in Colombia. The first friendly in Lisbon ended goalless, while Portugal won the second match 2-0 in an invitational tournament in Panama.
Portugal will go on to reach the World Cup final, while Nigeria crashed out at the quarterfinals. Obuh said the Flying Eagles must, therefore, ensure they make fewer mistakes today.
“We have to be calm and make sure we make fewer mistakes against a good side as Portugal. Mistakes often cost us dearly and so we cannot afford such,” he warned. “And we also have to take our chances in front of goal, while always making sure we keep a clean sheet at all times.”
The Flying Eagles, who have already trained with the official match balls, Cafusa, had a first feel of the match venue yesterday evening.
Meanwhile, the 2013 World Cup in Turkey will record many firsts. For the first time in this tournament, referees will use the vanishing spray to indicate things like free kick spots and where a defensive wall should stand. Turkey 2013 will also present a new trophy for the competition.