Experience meets ambition as Nigeria take on Guatemala in their Group D opener at the FIFA U-20 World Cup Colombia 2011. This is the African nation's fourth successive appearance at this competition, their ninth overall, and they have reached the final twice, while the Central American debutants will be doing their utmost to cause an upset.
Nigeria-Guatemala, Armenia, Sunday 31 July, 15.00 (local time)
Nigeria have one of the strongest records in this competition, with 39 FIFA U-20 World Cup matches to date, and the current side come to Colombia having recently won the CAF African Youth Championship for the sixth time. Coach John Obuh is sure to build his team around those players who participated in the country's FIFA U-17 World Cup campaign in 2009, where they eventually lost 1-0 to Switzerland in the final on home soil.
Guatemala also go into the group stage on a high, following their surprise semi-final finish in April’s CONCACAF qualifying tournament. In that tournament, they defeated, among others, regional heavyweights USA, who thus failed to qualify for the FIFA U-20 World Cup after seven straight appearances. Their strong defence and rapid counter-attacking play are expected to be central to coach Ever Almeida’s plans, though the suspension of centre-back Manuel Moreno is undoubtedly a blow.
23 – The number of years Guatemala have been absent from all FIFA competitions, their last showing coming at the Men's Olympic Football Tournament in 1988.
John Obuh, Nigeria coach: “We always go for the win, no matter who we’re playing, and we’ve got players with all the enthusiasm and desire to get something out of their World Cup experience."
Ever Almeida, Guatemala coach: “We’ll fight with everything we’ve got. We’re going for the win, of course, and we’ll do all we can to make the fans happy.”