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Flying Eagles Can Shock The World, Says Siasia

Oladipo Okubanjo

Nigeria’s junior national soccer team, the Flying Eagles, have the potential to become the first Nigerian squad to win the FIFA Under-20 World Cup in New Zealand, a former coach of the side Samson Siasia has declared.

The Flying Eagles have come close to winning the world youth championship on two occasions – 1989 when they lost the final game to Portugal and 2005 when they lost to Argentina.

And as Nigeria prepare to launch their quest for honours once again, Siasia, who was in charge of the 2005 Flying Eagles, is optimistic that the current squad can go one better than their predecessors.

The ex-international, who currently leads the national Under-23 team, says the current team has impressed him, adding that he will be following their progress in New Zealand where they are nestled in Group E along with Brazil, North Korea and Portugal. “Of course I am (impressed by performance of the Flying Eagles).

Who doesn’t like good things?” said Siasia. “We brought Taiwo (Awoniyi) in before our (Under-23 team) last game against Zambia, he came in and scored two goals for us so I have to be impressed.

I will be following them at the World Cup and I hope they win it. “I hope they do well and better than we did in 2005. I want them to go on   and win the tournament for us.

If they do, it will be glory to Nigeria and we must understand that whenever a national team wins, it is for the country.” Siasia, it will be recalled, had last month invited five members of the Flying Eagles team to help beef up his U-23 squad ahead of an all-important All Africa Games qualifying match away to Zambia, with the Nigerian side going into the game in Lusaka with a 1-1 result from the first leg played in Abuja. With one of the invited players, Awoniyi, saving his blushes Siasia says he will elevate most of the U-20 players to the U-23 team after the World Cup.

“They are in my plans of course,” he said. “I will watch their games at the World Cup and the best of them will join us when they’re done. “It’s natural for them to progress from the U-20 to the U-23. Remember I did it too when I was the U-20 coach and later the U-23 coach.

“It’s a Nigerian team and not a Siasia team. If we think anybody is good enough, we will bring them in but the U-20 boys are definitely in my plans.”

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