Nigeria delivered a bold statement of intent with a 4-0 thumping of Qatar in their Group D curtain-raiser at the FIFA Under-20 World Cup Poland 2019.
The Flying Eagles, runners-up to a Joao Pinto-propelled Portugal in 1989 and a Lionel Messi-inspired Argentina in 2005, soared 2-0 up inside 25 minutes – and both goals were indebted to their left-back.
Ikouwem Utin duped his marker and unleashed a swerving shot, which Shehab Mamdouh could only push into the path of Maxwell Effiom, whose first-time volley broke the deadlock.
The Nigeria No 3 then somehow sprung four challenges down the left and cut the ball back to present Okechukwa Offia with a comfortable finish from close range.
Qatar did have their chances. Zulkifilu Rabiu catapulted himself across the Tychy turf to make an outstanding block from Yusuf Abdurisag, and Nigeria goalkeeper Olawale Oremade was alert to break up a three-on-one break from which the underdogs should have made more.
They were further punished, esteemed Manchester City midfielder Tom Dele-Bashiru making it 3-0 before Aliu Salawudeen’s swivel and shot completed the rout.
The teams return to action on Monday, when Qatar face Ukraine and Nigeria encounter USA. – Super Sport.