Abuja - After relinquishing their unbeaten run to Brazil at the on-going FIFA U20 World Cup in New Zealand, Nigeria's Flying Eagles found themselves in a tight corner and suddenly it seems the promising lads are being written off.
Manu Garba's team went back to the drawing board and recorded impressive victories against North Korea and Hungary to set-up a mouthwatering second round tie with Germany.
The critics have advised the Flying Eagles to start booking their flight back home, but football is played on the pitch and not with mouth.
Nigeria will battle Germany in the round of 16 for a place in the quarter finals at the on Thursday.
Here is why we believe the reigning Orange African Youth Championship winners have plenty of reasons to believe and scale through.
1. Taiwo Awoniyi
The Imperial Academy striker may not have found target in the opening two games, but that did not stop him from giving his best in the match against Hungary and he bagged a brace. He was a key component in the Flying Eagles team that conquered Africa. Awoniyi is an asset any club in Europe would covet. His form will be crucial for the Flying Eagles to zoom past the Germans.
2. Less Pressure
Manu's boys were on a roller coaster before the World Cup started and now the pressure on them had reduced since the loss to Brazil. Now that pundits have ruled them out of reckoning, they will need to get the goals that routinely brings result. The weight of expectation is now off their shoulders and the Flying Eagles will be expected to use their skills to their advantage, easing the psychological pressure on them.
3. Sharp Wingers
it’s no longer news that the Flying Eagles have some of the best wingers around in the tournament. The likes of Godwin Saviour, Bernard Bulbwa and Moses Simon can't be deemed as pushovers in terms of destroying the opposition with their deft touches. The world saw the quality of Godwin and Bulbwa in the Group matches, but another explosion in the team is Simon.
4. Flying Eagles' Technical Crew
Much has been made of Manu Garba and his backroom staff. Garba and his backroom staff are hardly novices. They know what it takes to thrive under pressure. They will scale through the hurdle. The great character and much like recent turnaround, can serve as a confidence booster to them.
5. We Defeated German Sides in Warm Up Games
Another advantage that will work in Flying Eagles' favour is for the fact that they thrashed German sides in friendly games. They U23 sides of Nurnberg, Hoffenheim and Freiburg were on the receiving of thrashing from the Nigeria U20 side. They boys already know what to expect from the U20 side of Germany.