Even if Ladan Bosso and his Flying Eagles didn’t start out as favourites, they made their way to the last eight in the 23rd edition of the U20 World Cup.
The Nigerians were pitted against Argentina and its over 25,000 fans gathered at the Bicentenario stadium in San Juan.
Argentina, the most successful nation in World Cup history with 7 U20 World Cups was defeated 2-0.
The semi-finalists of the last Africa Cup of Nations held their own in a first half dominated by Albiceleste. Their power and speed then brought the hosts to their knees.
In the second half, a goal kick ended in a defensive mistake and a clear chance for Ibrahim Muhammad, who scored in the 61st minute after a nice serve by Emmanuel Umeh.
Argentina continued to pressure, hitting the woodwork twice. Neither Alejo Véliz nor Valentín Carboni could shake goalkeeper Chijoke Aniagboso.
A late Nigerian counterattack ended in a header by Rilwanu Haliru Sarki just before the final whistle.
Argentina did not arrive at the U-20 World Cup as one of the favorites. The team coached by Javier Mascherano didn’t qualify initially, only getting a spot at the tournament when it replaced Indonesia as host. Heavy home support after the senior team’s World Cup title was expected to give the youngsters a boost.
Nigeria will take on either Ecuador or South Korea in the next round.
The Gambia will play Uruguay on Thursday (June 1st) at 5:30 PM UTC for a spot in the last 8. They ended first of their group.
At the Diego Maradona stadium in La Plata, Tunisians valiantly played against the Brazilian squad. However, the Carthage eaglets’ efforts were not rewarded, nor helped by refereeing.
Montasser Louhichi’s men were trailing behind 2-0 at half-time after goals from Marcos Leonardo (11′) and Andrey Santos (31′).
The referee chose to penalize a very slight handling error by the Etoile du Sahel striker and cancelled the goal Chaim El Djebali as he and his team-mates exerted extreme pressured on the Auriverde defense.
The Tunisians hoped to reduce the goal difference thanks to Raki Aouani’s entrance on the pitch. Brazil was in fact down to 10 after Renan Robert had been sent off (46′).
Udinese striker Matheus Martins then made it 3-0 (90+1′), before Chelsea player Andrey sent a final counterattack into the top corner of Dries Arfaoui’s net (90+10′).
Mahmoud Ghorbel saved Tunisia’s honour scoring a final celebrated as a victory (90+13′) after a scramble in the Brazilian defence.
Senegal’s tie against Colombia on May 27 crushed the team’s chances to advance in the round of 16.
The AFCON champions leave the competition with no win. Their group was made of Japan, Israel and Colombia.