5 Flying Eagles stars to look out for at the FIFA U20 World Cup
AC Milan, Inter starlets invited to the squad
With the 2023 FIFA U20 World Cup less than a month away, the Flying Eagles squad to the tournament is beginning to take shape. Head coach Ladan Bosso handed out invitations to 39 players initially, and has added a number of names, particularly of foreign pros, in recent weeks. With the team set to face Brazil, Italy and the Dominican Republic in what promises to be a tight group, Nigerians can only hope Bosso gets his team selection right to secure results.
This article will be highlighting five starlets who have been invited to the Flying Eagles squad and how they may help the team to navigate their group of death and beyond.
#5 Ibrahim Muhammad Beji
Enterprising winger Ibrahim Muhammad Beji has been one of the better players for Nigeria’s current U20 team since its inception. The 19-year-old FC Cartagena starlet had a memorable campaign at the WAFU U20 Cup which the Flying Eagles won, and translated the form to the U20 AFCON in Egypt.
Beji featured in all of Nigeria’s games at the U20 AFCON in Egypt as the side finished third behind Senegal and Gambia. He finished with two goals and an assist in six appearances for Bosso’s team and enjoyed rave reviews in the tournament. He will be one of the shining lights of Nigeria’s attack in Argentina and coach Bosso will hope to count on him in the tournament.
#4 Abel Ogwuche
Trelleborg FF defender Abel Ogwuche enjoyed an impressive tournament with the Flying Eagles at the U20 AFCON in Egypt. The 19-year-old started the competition on the bench but grabbed his chance with both hands, putting up a Man of the Match performance on his first start of the competition.
Ogwuche, a graduate of Ibadan-based Tripple 44 Academy, plays in Sweden’s second-tier with Trelleborg. The teenager played five times at the U20 AFCON and impressed the fans with his composure and defending ability. When the Flying Eagles face Brazil and Barcelona-linked Vitor Roque, he will be among those tasked with keeping him quiet.
#3 Daniel Daga
Talented midfielder Daniel Daga is waiting for a chance to explode on the global scene in Argentina. The 16-year-old starlet was unfortunate to suffer a knee injury in the opener of the U20 AFCON against Senegal which ruled him out of the rest of the tournament. His CV, however, speaks for him with regards to his ability and contribution.
Daga has had a stratospheric growth from playing in the lower divisions of Nigerian football to joining NPFL side Dakkada FC, for whom he scored the winner on his NPFL debut. He was vice-captain of the Flying Eagles at the WAFU tournament and finished with two Man of the Match awards for his stellar displays. Tidy on the ball with supreme confidence and maturity, Daga will have an important role to play for the side in Argentina, if fully fit.
#2 Victor Eletu
For highly-rated teenage midfielder Victor Eletu, Nigerian football supremos are willing to go to war with AC Milan. The 18-year-old plies his trade in Italy for the Primavera team of the Italian champions and has been invited to the Flying Eagles camp. His participation, however, is in doubt as his club have refused to release him, citing his importance to their season as a reason.
Eletu has played 33 times for the Rossoneri U19 this season, including making six appearances in the UEFA Youth League as AC Milan reached the semifinals. The defensive midfielder is strong on the ball and capable of receiving under pressure. He has an excellent passing range and is regarded very highly in Italy, as he has often captained the youth side. His inclusion in the side is a good choice by the Flying Eagles handlers, as he will add a lot of quality if he plays.
#1 Ebenezer Akinsanmiro
It came as a surprise to many that the biggest transfer news out of Nigeria on deadline day in January was from a teenager with very little professional experience. Such is the quality and aura that surrounds Inter Milan Primavera midfielder Ebenezer Akinsanmiro, who joined the club from Remo Stars in the NPFL.
Akinsanmiro is still finding his feet in Italy but has played 11 times, providing two assists for the Nerazzurri. The 18-year-old Beyond Limits academy graduate is capable of playing in a deep midfield role and is equally adept at playing further forward. The teenage star is one to watch in Argentina as many expect him to shine as a certain Mikel Obi did on the same stage, 18 years ago.
Honourable mentions: Joel Ideho (Arsenal), Benjamin Fredrick, Rilwan Haliru Sarki, Aminu Mohammed, Augustine Njoku.