The Flying Eagles of Nigeria opened their Toulon International Tournament campaign at the Stade Perruc Hyeres in France against defending champions Mexico by 5:30pm (4:30 Nigerian time) today (Wednesday).
It is Nigeria’s first outing at the 46- year- old tournament which is said to have produced no fewer than 1512 full internationals in the past and they include: David Beckham, Franck Lampard (England), Javier Mascherano (Argentina), Kaka (Brazil),Nikolas Anelka (France), Kolo Toure and Didier Zokora (Ivory Coast).
Nigeria is expected to use this year’s tournament to fine tune their final preparation lapses ahead of next month World Cup in Turkey. Six of the 10 teams at this year’s competition will feature at the Under-20 World Cup, namely: Nigeria, Portugal, Colombia, France, United States of America and South Korea.
Flying Eagles German assistant coach Jurgen Press commenting on the team’s readiness for the task ahead said: “We have a good team who have been responding to training. We will see how much they have learned thus far.”
Three years ago, Cote d-Ivoire became the only African nation to emerge winners of the tournament.
The last time Mexico and Nigeria clashed at the U20 level was two years ago, defeating the Flying Eagles 4-1 in another invitational tournament in Panama preparatory to the 2011 U20 World Cup in Colombia.
Nigeria will be parading the likes of Under- 17 international defender Wilfried Ndidi, Switzerland- based goalkeeper Sebastian Osigwe and new Olympiacos of Greece midfielder Michael Olaitan, who are pressing to make the final 21- man squad for Turkey.
Alhaji Gero of Enugu Rangers will be looking forward to put behind the demise of his younger brother this week as he aim to guarantee his place in the squad for Turkey following the emergence of Dolphins striker Samuel Eduok as an attacking option for coach John Obuh- led team.
Mexico will parade FC Dallas of USA goalkeeper Sanchez Alcaraz along with players drawn from several top clubs in the country.
The Mexicans won five matches to qualify for the 2013 World Cup, scored 15 goals and conceded only one goal.