Can Scotland ground the Eagles?
© Foto-net

A rough start to group F has left Scotland in the unenviable position of needing to get full points against 2005 U-20 World Cup finalists and perpetual challengers Nigeria on Wednesday 4 July in Victoria.

The game
Scotland v Nigeria, Victoria, 4 July, 19:45 (local time)

The stakes
Two-time finalists, Nigeria are anxious to confirm that they are among the tournament favourites after a not-entirely-comfortable 1-0 victory over Costa Rica in their first match. A victory against the Scots would leave them all-but advanced heading into their final Group F contest against table-topping Japan. After their disappointing 3-1 loss to the Japanese in their first match, which included a couple of defensive howlers, the European runners-up will need to tighten up their defence against the explosive attacking power of the Africans.

The players
The power up front for the Flying Eagles comes from the impressive duo of captain Ezekial Bala and Brown Ideye, who sliced apart the Ticos over and over again on Sunday. Nineteen-year-old Ideye scored the only goal of that match and hit the crossbar, and the challenge of controlling him should fall to Scotland's central defender and captain Scott Cuthbert. How well the big Celtic lad recovers from his terrible giveaway that led to Japan's opening goal will be one of the keys to the match. In their attack, Scotland's hopes still reside with Steven Fletcher, who is anxious to get off the mark after posting an excellent goal-scoring record in qualifying. Nigeria's starting goalkeeper against Costa Rica, Moses Ocheje probably will not play after being stretchered off in the first half of that match.

The players
Scotland forward, Ross Campbell, who came on at half-time against Japan, turns 20 on the day before the match.

The past
The two teams have never met in the U-20s, and only once at any level - a full national team friendly in 2002, which Nigeria won 2-1. The Flying Eagles will be Scotland's first African opponent at a FIFA U-20 World Championship, while this will be Nigeria's 100th match in a FIFA men's event.

The words
"Nigeria are of a good quality, and I think obviously we'll be better in our next match. They are a very strong team, so I'm sure it will be a difficult game. But, I know that we can do better than we did against Japan." Tommy Wilson, Scotland coach.

"Scotland may have lost 3-1, but we will not take chances with them. We will approach the match very seriously because they can always pull a surprise. The first two contests in a tournament like this are the most important, and it matters a lot to us that we have six points by the time of the last match against Japan. That's the target. The Scottish team is not too bad technically, but they seemed to lag behind the Japanese physically." Ladan Bosso, Nigeria coach.

"(Scotland) did not play so fantastic. They have a lot of big, tall players, which might cause us a few problems, but I believe that we can get through this test." Brown Ideye, Nigeria forward.