A difficult draw for the Flying Eagles U20, who will play Brazil, Italy and the Dominican Republic in the World Cup 2023 of their category which will take place in Argentina from May 20 to June 11.
Friday's draw (Apr. 21) was led by former Argentine and French internationals Juan Pablo Sorin and David Trezeguet. Three of the four African teams qualified for the 23rd edition of the U20 World Cup will face tough contenders.
The Flying Eagles of Nigeria, are used to playing in the World Youth Championships. The team will this year in Group D "the group of death" with Italy and especially Brazil and its young prodigies Endrick -already recruited by Real Madrid- and Andrey Santos, bought by Chelsea, to name a few.
Speaking to AllNigeriaSoccer, Flying Eagles coach Landan Bosso confirmed the invitation of foreign-based players to join the squad. He didn't provide any names though.
He aims to beef up the attack of the Flying Eagles who fished the U20 AFCON on third place.
Gambia, the surprise finalists of latest AFCON, will challenge France, 2013 world champions led this year by Elye Wahi, a young striker of Ivorian descent who scored 26 goals in two seasons with Montpellier.
The Young Scorpions will also have to face South Korea, finalist of the last edition, and Honduras (Group F).
Tunisia is in Group E togetherwith Uruguay and England as main rivals. Iraq, runner-up of Asia, is the small thumb of the group of Eagles.
The two top teams of each of the six groups plus the four best thirds will qualify for the round of 16.
Africa's U20 champions
Winners of the very first AFCON of their history in Egypt (Mar. 13), the Young Teranga Lions coached by Pape Thiaw and led by captain Samba Diallo (Dinamo of Kiev, Ukraine), prodigy Lamine Camara (FC Metz, France) and striker Pape Demba Diop (Zulte Waregem, Belgium) were seeded.
In Group C, they will face Colombians, the third-place finisher of the latest U20 Copa America. The South American squad relies on 3 key players who play in Europe: goalkeeper Alexei Rojas(Arsenal), midfielder and captain Gustavo Puerta (borrowed by German club F.C Nürnberg from Leverkusen) and most importantly Aston Villa striker Jhon Durán who's already appeared 8 times in Premier League.
The Senegalese will also play Japan and Israel.
It will be the 11th time that Japan participates in the tournament, the nation even reached the final in 1999. Most of the team's footballers play home except for; defender Niko Takahashi, who is completing his training at FC Barcelona, and striker Naoki Kumata, who was the top scorer at the last Asian Cup (5 goals), should be watched closely.
Israel historic qualification has mostly been talked about in connection to a controversy. The participation of the European zone's latest squad was contested by Indonesian governors. The country was initially due to host the event but FIFA striped Indonesia of U-20 World Cup after calls for Israel ban.