By JOHN EGBOKHAN
Ahead of flag-off of the FIFA U-20 World Cup, a former Flying Eagles star, Paul Okoku has said that the current set being managed by Coach Obuh can stun the world with an eye-popping performance next month in Turkey.
From June 22 to July 13, Turkey plays host to 24 countries who would be bidding to succeed Brazil as the champions of FIFA’s top age grade competition. With Brazil and Argentina absent, the door is open to other teams to shine and speaking on phone from his base in the United States of America, Okoku has challenged the Flying Eagles to use their futile bid at African Youth Championship as a launchpad to success at the junior World Cup.
“This is clarion call on the Flying Eagles team to go for the title. Although it is a developmental programme, there is nothing wrong in going for the title. In fact, our team can make themselves very special by winning the title”, said Okoku, vice-captain of the Flying Eagles set of 1983, who were the first to play in the maiden edition of the FIFA U-20 World Cup held in Mexico.
While admitting that teams cannot win all the time, Okoku noted that “as you celebrate your victories, you have to accommodate your losses also. My advice to the them is that they must concentrate on the tournament ahead, leave every distractions behind them, continue to listen to the wise counsel of their coaches and keep working hard.
“I feel a personal connection to the Flying Eagles because I was a pioneer member of the team and a vice-captain of that team. Coach Obuh is doing a fantastic job and I wish him all the best of luck as he leads the team to the competition”, added Okoku.
The Flying Eagles are grouped alongside Cuba, South Korea and Portugal in Group B and play their first match against Portugal on June 21 in the Turkish city of Kayseri. They confront Cuba and South Korea on June 24 and June 27 respectively.