Ike Shorunmu on U20 World Cup: Nigeria's opponents always double their efforts

Although the 51-year-old admitted the clash between the African sides will be difficult, he is hopeful the Flying Eagles will come out unscathed

Former Super Eagles goalkeeper and trainer Ike Shorunmu believes Nigeria U20 can defeat Senegal when they meet in the Round of 16 in the ongoing Fifa U20 World Cup in Poland on Monday.

After starting the competition impressively with a 4-0 thumping of Qatar, the Flying Eagles failed to build on that form, losing 2-0 to the United States. Then they managed to force Ukraine to a 1-1 stalemate in their last group game.

The results saw them finish third in Group D with four points to qualify for the knockout stage of the competition as one of the best third-placed teams.

Shorunmu, who made 36 appearances for the Super Eagles, has called on Paul Aigbogun’s men to exhibit their peak form.

“We started the competition well with a win against Qatar but we underrated USA after they lost their first game, so we got a shocker,” Shorunmu told Goal.

“But for the last game against Ukraine, the team really showed the attitude of a Nigerian, never-give-up spirit.

“I was quite impressed with their attitude in that game. We qualified as one of the best losers to the knockout stages and for me, with the way they played against Ukraine I have no doubt we will get a good result against Senegal.

“Any team that wants to play against Nigeria always doubles their efforts. The duel between Senegal and Nigeria has been long. Believe me, the game is going to be a tough match for both countries."

After their loss to the USA, the Flying Eagles faced a barrage of criticism from fans who were not pleased with their displays.

Shorunmu opines that such criticism will help the players and coach to improve on their performances in their next game.

“We are fond of criticising our national teams when they are not doing well," he continued.

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"We criticise the players, the coach, but it is a good thing for the players and coach to upgrade their effort for their next game.

“Overall I expect a good game on Monday and victory for the Flying Eagles by God’s grace.”

Nigeria have never won the U20 World Cup. Their best outings were in the 1989 and 2005 editions, where they finished as runners-up.