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Flying Eagles Of Nigeria Debut At Mexico 1983 World Youth Championship
The country’s U-20 Men’s team are popularly called; “the Flying Eagles”. Nigeria’s Flying Eagles first qualified to represent Africa at the FIFA World Youth Championship hosted by Mexico in 1983 alongside Ivory Coast
However, the Flying Eagles could not get past the first round. In their first match, they defeated the highly-rated Soviet Union 1-0 with the winning goal coming from the booth of Tarila Okoronwanta in the 78th minute of play, before losing 3-0 to Brazil and holding the Netherlands to a goalless draw .
In 1985, the Flying Eagles won the bronze medal at the FIFA World Youth Championship held in Russia. They qualified alongside Tunisia, to represent Africa. The Flying Eagles started their campaign with a 2-0 win over Canada. On Monday, Odiaka opened the scoring in the 1st minute of play, to enter the FIFA record book as the fastest goal scorer in the FIFA U-20 tournament. Samson Siasia netted the second goal in the 78th minute to put the game beyond the boundless Canadians.
In their second game, the team was defeated by an experienced Russian team 2-1. Nigeria’s lone goal came off the bench of Mark Anunobi in the 81st minute of play. However they bounced back to record a remarkable 3-2 win over Australia in their last group game to qualify for the quarter-finals. Niyi Adeleye, Monday Odiaka and Mark Anunobi were all on the scorers chart.
In the quarter-final with Mexico, the Flying Eagles recorded a heart-felt 2-1 victory over the competition’s main favorites to set up a semi-final match with Brazil. The clash with the Mexicans was a tough one to break down, as the Nigerians had to defend their lead in the final minutes of the second half after Augustin Igbinabaro and Monday Odiaka gave Nigeria a comfortable lead in the first half. The Mexicans pulled one back through Victor Medina in the 50th minute of play, but it was not their day, as the Flying Eagles held on to record a famous victory.
In the semi-final match, the Brazilians proved to be too hot for the Flying Eagles, as they rolled over them 2-0. However, the Flying Eagles defeated the host Soviet Union 3-1 on penalties to take the bronze medal after the match ended 0-0 in regulation time. It was a tournament that saw Monday Odiaka win the Adidas Golden boot award, after putting in a spectacular display in Nigeria’s green white colours.
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