Nigeria’s Flying Eagles got off to a flying start at the 2019 U-20 World Cup in Poland on Friday with a 4-0 win over Qatar.
Goals from Maxwell Effiom, Henry Offia, Ayotomiwa Dele-Bashiru and Aliu Salawudeen gave the Nigerians an emphatic win over their Asian counterparts in Tychy.
The Flying Eagles, runners-up to a Joao Pinto-propelled Portugal in 1989 and a Lionel Messi-inspired Argentina in 2005, soared 2-0 up inside 25 minutes – and both goals were indebted to their left-back.
Ikouwem Utin sent his marker the wrong way before unleashing a swerving shot, which Shehab Mamdouh could only push into the path of Effiom, whose first-time volley broke the deadlock in the 12th minute. The Nigeria No.3 then somehow sprung four challenges down the left and cut the ball back to present Okechukwa Offia with a comfortable finish from close range 12 minutes later.
The two-time U-20 World Cup runners-up were in control and were never threatened by the Asians, and Offia should have made it three early in the second half but saw his weak effort parried for a corner kick.
Manchester City’s Dele-Bashiru showed shrewdness and clinical competence when put through by a great pass, to make it three in the 68th minute.
Defender Salawudeen, on the books of Amuneke Academy, rifled into the net for Nigeria’s fourth after the ball fell into his path from a corner kick to complete the rout.
Qatar did have their chances. Zulkifilu Rabiu catapulted himself across the Tychy turf to make an outstanding block from Yusuf Abdurisag, and Nigeria goalkeeper Olawale Oremade was alert to break up a three-on-one break from which the underdogs should have made more.
The Flying Eagles will head to the city of Bielsko-Biala, where they play the United States of America in their second game on Monday while Qatar square up against Ukraine.