Nigeria Football: Flying Eagles and the FIFA U-20 World Cup

Nigeria Football: Flying Eagles and the FIFA U-20 World Cup
Credit: @thenff Twitter

The national Under-20 Nigeria team, known as the Flying Eagles, is considered by many as the feeder team of the men's national team, the Super Eagles. The performance of the U-20 side demonstrates Nigerian football development, with the Flying Eagles acting as a link between the under-age grade to the senior national level. And just like every other national football level in the country, it is controlled by the Nigerian Football Federation (NFF).

The Flying Eagles have dominated the African U-20 competition in the past. They have won a record seven U-20 Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON) titles, a feat that no African country can match. However, this domination has not extended to the world stage.

Nigeria made its FIFA U-20 World Cup debut in 1983 in Monterrey, Mexico. They won their first game but could not qualify for the group stage. This competition was known as the FIFA World Youth Championship at that time. Since then, the country has appeared on 11 more occasions ahead of this year's showdown in Argentina.

The Flying Eagles are yet to make a mark on the world stage, as they haven't lifted the FIFA U-20 World Cup title. However, the Flying Eagles have come close on two different occasions since the inception of the FIFA U-20 World Cup. They were runners-up in 1989 and 2005.

Nigeria's Best Shot at the FIFA U-20 World Cup

The 1989 edition of the FIFA U-20 World Cup took place in Saudi Arabia. The Flying Eagles defeated the United States, after extra time, in the semi-finals, before facing Portugal in the final. Nigeria lost 2-0 to the Portuguese, but it was the first time the country went that far in the competition.

Nigeria appeared in another final of the competition in 2005 hosted by the Netherlands. Nigeria defeated Morocco 3-0 in the semi-final before losing 2-1 to Lionel Messi-inspired Argentina in the finals. The Argentine superstar notched six goals in the competition, winning the MVP.

Nigeria U-20 FIFA World Cup Record

Year     Elimination Stage

1983      Group stage

1985      Third place

1987      Group stage

1989      Runners-up

1999      Quarter-finals

2005      Runners-up

2007      Quarter-finals

2009      Round of 16

2011      Quarter-finals

2013      Round of 16

2015      Round of 16

2019      Round of 16

2023      Qualified

Nigeria 2023 FIFA U-20 World Cup Group

Nigeria, Brazil, Italy, and the Dominican Republic are the teams in Group D.

The two-time runners-up of this competition, Nigeria, will open their FIFA U-20 World Cup campaign against the Dominican Republic on 21st May in Mendoza.

Three days later, the Flying Eagles will lock horns with Italy before traveling to La Plata to face Brazil in the last group game on 27th May.

Nigeria 2023 FIFA U-20 World Cup Squad

The Flying Eagles of Nigeria's official squad is out for the 2023 FIFA U-20 World Cup in Argentina. The Nigeria Football Federation (NFF) Twitter account posted the 21-man final list on Monday. Below are the players picked by Ladan Boso to help Nigeria win its maiden FIFA U-20 World Cup title.

Goalkeepers: Chijioke Aniagboso, Nathaniel Nwosu, Saheed Jimoh

Defenders: Daniel Bameyi, Benjamin Frederick, Israel Domingo, Abel Ogwuche, Augustine Njoku, Solomon Abalaka

Midfielders: Daniel Daga, Samson Lawal, Victor Eletu, Ibrahim Abdullahi, John Joshua, Tochuckwu Nnadi

Forwards: Haliyu Sarki, Jude Sunday, Ibrahim Mohammed, Lawal Salem Fago, Kehinde Ibrahim, Emmanuel Umeh

This article was most recently revised and updated 11 months ago

Chandan is a passionate writer, editor, and marketer with a love for football. He has bylines in leading online publications and has worked with renowned sports brands like The Olympics, Fox Sports Asia, and the Indian Super League (ISL). As for the unimpressive part, he loves Chelsea.