After a below par outing against USA in Bielsko- Biala on Monday, Nigeria’ s Flying Eagles have their fate in their own hands when they battle leaders Ukraine in Group D for a place in the knockout stages of the 2019 U – 20 World Cup in Poland on Thursday .
Goals by Sebastian Soto and a sterling performance by the US condemned the seven – time African champions to a 2 – 0 defeat . Though they still have three points and two goals advantage after their 4 – 0 defeat of Qatar in Tychy on Friday , any slip against the Ukrainians could cost the Flying Eagles dearly .
The Ukrainians have already qualified for the Round of 16 , but they could still finish third on the log and be condemned to face the first- placed team in Group B . That is , if they lose to Nigeria and USA , on three points as Nigeria, rack up a big win over Qatar .
Both teams go toe- to – toe at the Bielsko -Biala Stadium as from 7 . 30 pm Nigeria time on Thursday , with the Flying Eagles determined to take the game to their opponents and get a win.
However , Paul Aigbogun ’ s side will do well to avoid the kind of lethargic start they contrived against USA , and put together more attacking moves complemented by clinical finishing .
If they end up as Group D winners , the Flying Eagles will travel back to Tychy to play a third – placed team in the Round of 16 on Monday. If they finish in second place , they will be off to Bydgoszcz to play the winners of Group E , which has another African side Mali, as well as France, Panama and Saudi Arabia . And if they end up as one of the best third – placed teams , they will be off to Lodz to play the winners of Group B .
The Nigerians must watch out for Denys Popov , who scored two of the Ukrainians three goals at the championship , as well as Serhi Buletsa , who scored against USA .
Two of Africa ’ s three other representatives, Mali and Senegal , are poised to reach the knockout rounds . Senegal top Group A after amassing six points from beating Tahiti and Colombia , while Mali perch in second place in Group E with four points after a draw with Panama and edging Saudi Arabia in a seven – goal thriller . South Africa, after losses to Argentina and Korea Republic , are pointless in Group F .