Nigeria’s Flying Eagles have booked their place in the round of 16 at the 2013 FIFA Under-20 World Championship in Turkey after defeating South Korea 1-0 on Thursday.
The Flying Eagles put up an efficient performance characterised by pace and strength to down the Asians.
The South Koreans were limited to long balls as the Flying Eagles covered every blade of the grass and harried their opponents for possession.
Surprisingly it was Olarenwaju Kayode’s ninth minute goal that ensured Nigeria did not have to go through the pain of waiting to know if they will be named as one of the best four third-placed teams from the group stage.
Kayode’s flicked header off the free kick of his captain, Abduljeleel Ajagun, flew past South Korea goalkeeper, Lee Chang-Keun, for what turned out to be the only goal of the game.
It was Kayode’s first goal for Nigeria in a long while.
Wilfred Ndidi came close to making it two on 15 minutes but his headed effort missed target.
The contest had a one-way story written all over it in the first half as Nigeria seized the initiative.
Kayode, putting in an improved performance, was close on two other occasions but could not make them count.
If the match had been a boxing bout, Nigeria would have ran away with a clear shot at victory based on technical points, as they attempted eight shots at goal against South Korea’s nil.
South Korea head coach, Lee Kwang-Jong, then made two tactical changes bringing on Han Sung-Gyu for Cho Suk-Jae and Kwon Chang-Hoon for Ryu Seung-Woo, who had failed to make telling impact in the tie.
The substitutes were effective as South Korea played themselves back into the game but lacked the cutting edge in the final third.
Nigeria goalkeeper, Samuel Okani, was forced to make one save when Kim Hyun was played through on goal but the keeper grabbed the ball off his feet in the goal area just before he could strike it.
On 81 minutes Dolphins winger, Samuel Eduok, struck the side of the Korean goalpost after a great run down the left channel when he could have squared the ball out for his teammates.
The Nigerian under-20s held on for a win that ensured they end the preliminary stage on six points to finish second and one point behind Group B winners, Portugal, who defeated Cuba 5-0 in the day’s other game.
Nigeria are likely to face one of Uzbekistan, Uruguay or Croatia depending on the outcome of the last matches in Group F this Saturday.