The Ambassador of Argentina to Nigeria, His Excellency Alejandro Herrero on Friday expressed confidence that his country will organize an excellent FIFA U20 World Cup finals despite receiving the hosting right less than five weeks to the championship.
“We are a footballing country with citizens who are very passionate about the game, and despite the late award of hosting rights, we will give it everything we have to deliver a smooth and superb tournament. Nigeria is one of the qualified teams and we must attend to the visa requirements of the NFF delegation promptly and as within the regulations,” His Excellency Herrero told a delegation of NFF chieftains led by the President, Alhaji Ibrahim Musa Gusau on Friday in Abuja.
FIFA formally announced on 17 April that the finals, earlier billed to be staged in Indonesia, had been moved to Argentina, with the same competition period maintained.
Earlier, the NFF President had commended Herrero and his team for receiving the NFF team at short notice, and stated that Nigeria would be looking forward to a championship in which to make history.
“Our two senior teams have enjoyed close contests at the FIFA World Cup level so many times, but I remember that at U20 level, we met in the Final in 2005, which Argentina won by a slim 2-1 margin in The Netherlands. This time, we want to go all the way and we believe Argentina will provide that warm and cordial environment to achieve our target.
“I know Argentina is a great football nation and that she is fully aware of what is required before accepting the hosting right. Every football fan all over the world wants to be in Argentina because of the country’s pedigree. It will be an interesting FIFA U20 World Cup for all teams including Nigeria.”
Argentina’s global icon Lionel Messi scored both goals (both from the penalty spot) when they edged the Flying Eagles 2-1 in the FIFA U20 World Cup Final in Utrecht in 2005 – one of the six times that the South American nation has won the championship. Argentina also hosted the finals in 2001.
This year’s tournament will see the Argies compete in Group A alongside Uzbekistan, Guatemala and New Zealand, while Nigeria trade tackles with Italy, Brazil and Dominican Republic in Group D. The Flying Eagles will play their first two matches (against Dominican Republic and Italy) in Mendoza before flying to La Plata to play Brazil on 27 May.
La Plata, Santiago del Estero, San Juan and Mendoza are the four host cities for the 24-nation championship.
Also present at the occasion were the NFF General Secretary, Dr Mohammed Sanusi; Deputy Consul Nicolas Perazzo; NFF’s Director of Communications, Ademola Olajire; NFF’s Chief Protocol Officer, Emmanuel Ayanbunmi; Consular Official, Ms Ifesinachi Udeh and; special assistant to NFF President, Abubakar Barde.