Flying Eagles Of Nigeria Debut At Mexico 1983 World Youth Championship

The country’s U-20 Male team are popularly called; “the Flying Eagles”. Nigeria’s Flying Eagles qualified for the first time to represent Africa in the FIFA World Youth Championship hosted by Mexico in 1983 alongside Ivory Coast

The Flying Eagles could not however make it beyond the first round. In their first game, they defeated highly rated USSR 1-0 with the winning goal coming from the booth of Tarila Okoronwanta in the 78th minutes 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 victory over Canada. Monday Odiaka opened scoring in the 1st minute of play, to enter FIFA record book as the scorer of the fastest goal in the FIFA U-20 tournament. Samson Siasia netted the second goal in the 78th minutes to put the game beyond the hapless Canadians.

In their second game, the team was defeated by an experience Russian side 2-1. Nigeria solitary goal came off the booth of Mark Anunobi in the 81st minutes of play. They however bounced back to record an astonishing 3-2 victory over Australia in their last group match to qualify for the quarterfinals. Niyi Adeleye, Monday Odiaka and Mark Anunobi were all on the scorers chart.

In the Quarter final encounter with Mexico, the Flying Eagles recorded a heart warming 2-1 victory over the competition top favorites to set up a semi final clash with Brazil. The clash with the Mexicans was a tough nut to crack, as the Nigerians had to defend their lead in the closing minutes of the second half after Augustine Igbinabaro and Monday Odiaka had given Nigeria a comfortable lead in the first half. The Mexicans pulled one back through Victor Medina in the 50th minutes of play, but it was not to be 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. The Flying Eagles however defeated the host USSR 3-1 via penalty to pick the bronze medal after the game ended 0-0 in regulation time. It was a tournament that saw Monday Odiaka winning the Adidas Golden shoe award, after putting up a splendid display in the green white colors of Nigeria.

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