With both sides already having qualified for the next round on six points from two matches, Japan and Nigeria could be forgiven for taking it easy in their final Group F encounter on Saturday in Victoria. But, while both coaches may make significant changes to their teams, it's hard to imagine either side backing off from their natural attacking tendencies.
Both teams know that they are through as either the first or second-placed team from the group, but topping the table would give the added benefit of being able to stay sequestered in the breezy Pacific city of Victoria for their second round contest. The second-place side has to travel to across this vast country to Ottawa. A draw would leave the two teams even on points and goal difference, but Japan would claim the next tie-breaker: goals scored.
Nigeria, two-time finalists in this event, may have something of a patchwork defence for the match. Their starting goalkeeper in the first contest, Moses Ocheje, is expected to miss out again at least as a precaution after being stretchered off with a head injury against Costa Rica. Meanwhile, central defender Efe Ambrose will definitely not play after seeing red for two yellow cards against Scotland, and boss Ladan Bosso will be tempted to rest starting defenders Akeem Latifu and Oladapo Olufemi, who are both on yellow cards. Japan have no players suspended or injured - or even with a caution - but they are expected to rest players for the knockout rounds.
This is the first U-20 World Cup meeting for the two sides, though they have split matches at the Olympic Fwaaaootball Tournament and Nigeria have beaten the Asians twice at the U-17 World Championship. But, Japan have never been beaten in their final group-stage match at the U-20s, having racked up four wins and three draws. In their 32 previous FIFA U-20 World Championship matches, the Flying Eagles have only met Asian competition twice. In 1989, they beat Saudi Arabia 2-1, and in 2005 they lost to Korea Republic by the same score on their way to the final.
"We have to keep in mind that we have six points, so we will definitely be advancing. That means I may rest a few players depending on the condition they're in. There's definitely a good chance of changing things up." Yasushi Yoshida, Japan coach.
"It would be good for us to win the group and stay (in Victoria) because we've already adapted to everything here, so we definitely want to win. We may make a few changes if it's appropriate, but every player that has come from Nigeria is a good player. We've seen Japan play twice, so I am confident that we will know where to attack them. I can tell you that they are dangerous, but we are looking forward to facing them. No doubt that they have a lot of pace, but we have some speed ourselves. But, I think that when we get the ball we will try to calm it down a bit." Ladan Bosso, Nigeria coach.