Nigeria have made an African record eight appearances at the FIFA U-20 World Cup but never won the title. While the giant west African nation has produced a world champion at under-17 level on three separate occasions, it has yet to taste the same success in the older age category. The Flying Eagles have come close however, losing 2-0 to Portugal in the 1989 final in Saudi Arabia, and again 16 years later in the Netherlands to a Lionel Messi-inspired Argentina. Nigeria were also third in the old Soviet Union in 1985, when their squad included their current senior team coach Samson Siasia. Their appearance at Colombia 2011 will be a fourth successive trip to the FIFA U-20 World Cup finals
Nigeria started slowly and were beaten in one of their group games at the African Youth Championships in South Africa, but then confirmed their credentials with exciting wins over Mali and Cameroon in the semi-final and final of the eight team tournament. With their success, Nigeria extended to six the number of times they have won the continental title. The backbone of the team comes from players who finished runners-up at the last FIFA U-17 World Cup on home soil two years ago. Players like Edafe Egbedi, Ramon Azeez and Terry Envoh, who came on as a substitute to score the winner in the final against Cameroon, have moved up from the FIFA U-17 World Cup squad two years ago.
Coach John Obuh had problems picking a full strength squad for the African championship, as so many Nigerian starlets already play outside of their country, with many clubs reluctant to allow them to compete. It was the case for his star player Ahmed Musa. He made it for just one game because of commitments at his Dutch club of VVV-Venlo. He will be available for the entire tournament in Colombia. But ultimately Obuh chose to keep faith with the team that won the continental crown in South Africa, naming mostly of them in the squad list. The team will be led by Ramon Azeez with the quartet of Sani Emmanuel, Kenneth Omeruo and Omoh Ojabu and Paul Dami of the 2009 Golden Eaglets (Nigeria U-17) also in the team. Players such as Kazim Yekini, Sani Tahir, Bright Ejike, and Chimezie Mbah have been called up for the first time.