Nigeria under-20 coach oozes confidence

By Oluwashina OkelejiBBC Sport, Lagos
Nigeria u-20 coach John Obuh
Doach John Obuh is confident Nigeria can finally land the world U20 crown

Nigeria under-20 coach John Obuh is confident his team can break its World Youth championship jinx in Colombia next month.

The Flying Eagles have come close, reaching the final twice, but the trophy has been elusive.

They lost 2-0 to Portugal in the 1989 final and were beaten 16 years later in Holland by Lionel Messi's Argentina.

Nigeria travel to Colombia as African champions, having won in South Africa earlier this year.

And Obuh is optimistic this could be the year the Flying Eagles finally clinch the title.

"We know the people back home want the World Cup - every country coming to Colombia has the same priority," Obuh told BBC Sport.

"We are going to take it one game at a time - and then, with strong discipline, hard work, focus and a bit of luck, we'll achieve our goal."

A series of successes in the Under-17 World Cup finals have, disappointingly, failed to translate into victory at Under-20 level.

Nigeria have also won the African Youth Championship a record six times- double the tally of any other nation.

"Records are meant to be set and broken so we are not under any illusion that this will be easy," added Obuh.

"The stakes are high, we are working hard and hopefully this will be the year the country will go a step farther."

The West Africans can look to bitter rivals and neighbours Ghana for inspiration.

As continental champions, Ghana became the first African country to win the U-20 World Cup in 2009.

"There is pressure to emulate what Ghana achieved two years ago, but it's not negative pressure. It's a pressure we can control because it is the pressure we give ourselves,'' the coach said.

Nigeria have been drawn in Group D against Guatemala, Croatia and Saudi Arabia.