England are but a few moments away from a historical achievement as they stare the possibility of lifting the U20 world cup in the face after 22 days of competition
A determined young English side find themselves driven by a rich core of players with Nigerian roots as they overcome obstacle after obstacle on the road to the ultimate prize becoming world champions in the age group for the very first time
It is a Nigerian influenced core as the team boasts of six young lads who could have been lining up in the green white and green had fate rolled the dice a little differently
As they tackle Venezuela today many Nigerians will watch with a tinge of longing and regret as Dominic Solanke, Ademola Lookman, Sheyi Ojo, Fikayo Tomori, Ovie Ejaria and Josh Onomah focus and exert their energies on doing their adopted country proud and achieving what Nigeria has so far not been able to
Its ironical as Nigeria despite our slew of successes at under 17 level have not lifted the U20 title only coming a close 2nd on 2 occasions (1989 2005) and did not even qualify for this edition despite talents such as Kelechi Nwakali & Victor Osimhen in the squad
All six Anglo Nigerians in the En haveland squad are prodigious talents and have been very essential to the teams progress
That England keeper Freddie Woodman has had to make only two more saves than Venezuela’s Farinez, is an indication of the strength of his backline and a testament to young Chelsea Star Fikayo Tomori’s Quality. The England defender has recovered from his calamitious own goal when he beat his own goalkeeper from near the centre circle to gift Guinea the equalizer in a group game and has grown from strength to strength
Midfielder Josh Onomah is available for selection again following his sending-off in the quarter-finals. He has been a beast in the middle for England
Dominic Solanke scored twice against Italy to send England into the final and has now scored 4 goals in the competition
“I think the key is our determination,” The new Liverpool forward Solanke told FIFA .com “We never gave up, even though we were losing.
Everton star Ademola Lookman has been the key man for England and is in with a shout for the player of the tournament should England win His brace against Costa Rica in the Round of 16 the sent England into the quarter-finals and he scored again in the victory over Italy
Liverpools Sheyi Ojo has been an impact sub of sorts adding so much value when brought on from the bench
Ovie Ejaria who is the most likely of the lot to feature for Nigeria having trained with the Eaglets in the past played a full 90 minutes in one of the group games came on for the final 15 minutes as sub against Mexico in the Semi-final to help shore things up after England were reduced to 10 men.
Small wonder then that current Nigerian Football president Amaju Pinnick has tried and continues to try as he pursues his crusade to recoup as many of our talents in diaspora for our own National teams but it is an uphill task as win or lose today these boys have made history and the English will never forget what they have achieved giving them 1 leg in to actually being capped for the English national team
For Nigeria It’s time to look away at what could have been . . . whatever comes our way after this is an added bonus and not a given anymore
But we will still celebrate them . . .they are still our children!
The final takes place this morning at the Suwon World Cup Stadium on Sunday at 19:00 (local time)