FIFA U20 WC: Nigeria is the only hope of a 2nd African title

Nigeria à la Coupe du monde U20
FIFA U20 WC: Nigeria is the only hope of a 2nd African title

Nigeria will be the only African country in the quarter-finals of the FIFA U-20 World Cup, having beaten hosts Argentina 0-2. Gambia and Tunisia followed Senegal, who were eliminated in the 1st round. That leaves only the Nigerians to offer Africa a second title in this competition, after Ghana in 2009.

The clashes between CONMEBOL and CAF representatives in the Round of 16 of the U20 World Cup went in the South Americans' favour. Only Nigeria managed to get out of their predicament. The Flying Eagles may even be considered to have achieved something. Even though Argentina had failed to qualify for the U20 World Cup, the fact that they were awarded the tournament seemed to have increased their motivation tenfold, with the desire to win on home soil and complete a double after the senior team's triumph last December.

In fact, Javier Masherano's players dominated the group phase with three convincing wins. But at youth level, the Nigerians are capable of lifting mountains. They played a perfect match in terms of aggression and efficiency. A goal from Ibrahim Beji Muhammad on the hour and another from Riwanu Halinu Sarki in injury time made the difference (2-0). In the quarter-finals, Nigeria will face South Korea, who eliminated Senegal at the same stage of the competition at the last edition in 2019.

Brazil topple Tunisia
Unfortunately, the Flying Eagles will be the only Africans fighting for a place in the last four. Tunisia and Gambia were unable to find a way past Brazil and Uruguay respectively. The Tunisians took a beating (4-1). And yet they were outnumbered throughout the second half after Robert Renan was sent off just before half-time. Tunisia's journey thus comes to an end in the Round of 8. This is their best ever performance at an U20 World Cup, since they failed to progress beyond the 1st round in their previous appearances in 1977 and 1995.

The Gambians, on the other hand, have a lot to regret. Runners-up in Africa, they finished top of their group with 7 points. However, they picked up a red card early on when Mansour Mbye was sent off (17th). They held out until Uruguay were also reduced to 10 men just before half-time. But they broke down on the hour mark and lost 1-0. As in 2007, they are now through to the last eight of the U20 World Cup.

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