The on-going FIFA U-20 World Cup finals in New Zealand looks good to set a new goalscoring record for the 38 –yeard old competition after a total of 121 goals were recorded at the end of the group phase campaign on Sunday.
Nine goals were scored on the first day of competition (Saturday, May 30), followed by seven goals on Sunday (May 31), 28 goals on Monday, 18 goals on Tuesday, 11 goals on Wednesday, 13 on Thursday, 10 on Friday, 11 on Saturday and 14 on Sunday.
The Flying Eagles have contributed eight of these goals, while the African champions’ Round of 16 opponents Germany has contributed double that number.
Group C’s best Portugal has contributed 10 of the goals, with Group A winners Ukraine and Group E leaders Brazil weighing in with nine each.
Hungary, Uzbekistan and USA have each contributed six goals, with Uruguay, Senegal, Austria, Colombia and Mali the least contributors with three goals each. Ghana has scored five and Serbia four.
With the group phase and its 36 matches concluded, New Zealand 2015 looks determined to overhaul the tournament’s scoring mark.
Since the competition became a 24 –team tournament in Malaysia 18 years ago, the 52 matches played at the 2009 finals in Egypt produced a whooping 166 goals. That also remains, till date, the only championship won by an African country – Ghana.
At the first 24 –team tournament in Malaysia, a total number of 158 goals were recorded.
The Black Satellites remain in this year’s competition, which is also only the second in which all four African flag-bearers would reach the Round of 16. Ghana play Mali on Wednesday, while Senegal tackle Ukraine. On Thursday, Nigeria is up against Germany.
In 2007, all four African flag-bearers (Nigeria, Zambia, Congo and Gambia) reached the Round of 16, with Nigeria eliminating Zambia at that stage.
When Nigeria hosted the competition in 1999, an impressive tally of 155 goals was recorded. The 2001 finals, hosted and won by Argentina, had 143 goals. In 1983, when Nigeria made her debut at the tournament held in Mexico, 90 goals were scored in the 32 matches played by the 16 teams.
There are still 16 more matches to be played in New Zealand, meaning the possibility of a new mark for goalscoring is very bright.
Thursday’s clash will be the third between Nigeria and Germany at the U-20 World Cup. The Flying Eagles won a group phase match 2-0 in Lagos during the 1999 championship that Nigeria hosted, and Germany won a Round of 16 match 3-2 in Suez during the finals in Egypt 10 years later.
ROUND OF 16 MATCHES
WEDNESDAY, 10 JUNE
Ghana Vs Mali (Wellington)
Serbia Vs Hungary (Dunedin)
USA Vs Colombia (Wellington)
Ukraine Vs Senegal (Auckland)
THURSDAY, 11 JUNE
Austria Vs Uzbekistan (Whangarei)
Germany Vs Nigeria (Christchurch)
Portugal Vs New Zealand (Hamilton)
Brazil Vs Uruguay (New Plymouth)