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Chile 2015: Nigeria, Brazil In Battle Of Little Giants

Posted: Nov 1, 2015 at 7:34 am   /   by   /   comments (0)

When Brazil and Nigeria square up in one of the quarterfinal matches of the ongoing 2015 FIFA U-17 World Cup in Chile on Sunday (today), it will be a battle between little giants writes Idris Adesina

Nigeria and Brazil are no strangers to each other in world football. Having met a few times across all levels, except the U-17 level, a match between the two sides will create a sparkle any day in the world of football. The most recent meeting between the two countries was at the 2015 FIFA U-20 World Cup where the Brazilians emerged victorious over the Flying Eagles.

But the most memorable meeting between the two countries – for Nigerians – was at the 1996 Atlanta Olympics when the U-23 team defeated the Brazilians in a dramatic fashion on their way to winning the football gold of the Games. For the Brazilians, it was a day to forget as Nigeria had not been given any chance before the match.

However, when the two sides meet again on Sunday (today) at 8pm Nigerian time at the Estadio Sausalito Vina Del Mar at the quarterfinals of the 2015 FIFA U-17 World Cup, a new chapter will be written in the annals of the two countries as the battle will be between two little giants.


Officially at the U-17 level, Nigeria and Brazil have yet to meet at any stage of the competition despite being the two most successful teams in its history. They however met earlier this year at a four-nation tournament – the Suwon Continental Cup International Youth (U-17) Football Tournament – organised by South Korea. The Golden Eaglets beat A Canarinha (Little Canaries) 2-1 to place third at the tournament

History/ Achievements

Historically, Nigeria are the most successful team in the tournament having won the tournament four times. The Eaglets won the inaugural edition in China in 1985 before going on to win in 1993 in Japan, 2007 in South Korea and in 2013 in the United Arab Emirates. They have also emerged runners-up on three occasions – in Canada 1987, Trinidad and Tobago 2001 and 2009 when they hosted the competition.

In contrast, the Brazilians are a title behind the Nigerians. A victory for them in Sunday’s match will see them continue their search for their fourth U-17 title. They were winners in 1997 in Egypt, 1999 in New Zealand and 2003 in Finland and runners-up in 1995 in Ecuador and 2005 in Peru. They placed third on one occasion – in 1985.

Nigeria and Brazil also have both qualified for the semi-finals of the tournament a record seven times – the highest by any country at that level. But Nigeria achieved the feat with fewer appearances than the Brazillians. The Eaglets are making their 11th appearance while the A Canarinha are making their 15th appearance – same as the USA. A strong point in favour of the Eaglets is that they have yet to lose in the semi-finals as they have progressed to the final on each of the seven times they made it to the stage.

Performance in Chile 2015

To qualify for the tournament in Chile, Brazil were the champions of the South American U-17 Championship while Nigeria placed fourth at the CAF U-17 Africa Cup of Nations in Niger Republic.

But the performance of the two countries in Chile has been in similar forms. Nigeria began their title defense in Group A with a 2-0 win over USA. They defeated hosts, Chile, 5-1 before losing 2-1 to Croatia in their last group match. The Eaglets topped the group with six points to book a place with Australia in the Round of 16. A 6-0 victory over the Joeys booked them the ticket to meet Brazil for the first time in the competition’s history.

For the A Canarinhas, who have been one of the low-scoring sides in Chile, they lost 1-0 to Korea Republic in their opening match in Group B before beating England 1-0 and defeating Guinea 3-1. They were second in the group with six points – three behind group leaders, Korea – to qualify for the Round of 16 where they beat New Zealand 1-0.

The difference between the two sides in Chile is the potency of their attack. Nigeria is the tournament’s highest scoring side as they had netted 14 goals while conceding only three. The Eaglets have scored 11 of their goals from open play while the other three came from set-pieces. For the Brazilians, they have managed to score five goals while conceding two.

Key players

In Sunday’s battle of little giants, Nigeria’s Victor Osimhen and Brazil’s Leandro will be the key to each side’s game. The Nigerian forward has netted seven goals to be the tournament’s highest goalscorer so far while the Brazilian has two goals to his name in Chile. Leandro was the highest goalscorer in the South American qualifiers, where he scored eight of Brazil’s 18 goals, Osimhen also emerged the highest goalscorer of the African qualifiers scoring four of Nigeria’s seven goals. However, the Nigerian exploded in Chile scoring a hattrick in the 6-0 thrashing of Australia in the Round of 16 while his Brazilian counterpart has yet to replicate his form in the qualifiers.

Nigeria also have the complement of Samuel Chukwueze, who has scored three of the Eaglets’ 14 goals. The midfielder, who said he aims to be like Netherland’s Arjen Robben, has pace and a can take on defenders while Brazil’s goalkeeper, Juliano, can stand between Nigeria and an eighth semi-final spot. The keeper made some daring saves in the match against New Zealand and is good at making saves with his feet. He comes after Mali’s Samuel Diarra, who has conceded only a goal.


The Brazilians make use of the midfield to their advantage. They hold the ball and make short passes aimed at opening the opponents’ defence and locate the deadly Leandro. Their midfield style of play allows the defenders a little breathing space as they build from the back.

In Chile, the Eaglets have made use of more counter-attacks and play from the midfield. The presence of pacy players also made wing play easy for them. Also, the Nigerian defence are organised and help in the attack.


Nigeria coach, Emmanuel Amuneke, with the current performance of his team, believes the Brazilians are beatable.

“We will prepare very well so as to give a good account of ourselves against Brazil,” the former Barcelona player was quoted by, as saying.

“Brazil are a very good side, we played against them in South Korea (in the Suwon Tournament) but this is the World Cup. Brazil are favourites to win this tournament but we have a plan to beat them.”

Brazil coach, Carlos Amadeu, knows his team rode on luck to the quarterfinals. He will be hoping his players improve in their performance against Nigeria.

After the victory over New Zealand, he told, “It was a very dramatic finish. The game turned out as we expected, with them defending close to their area and waiting for our mistake.”

“We had our chances, but blew them, but we were luckier. I am not satisfied with the way we played, but I am with the fact the players believed in themselves.”

About the Nigerian match, Amadeu said they would approach the match with utmost caution.

“Nigeria is a team that has always been strong at the youth level,” he told the Brazilian Football Confederation’s website.

“I have observed that they play a rhythmic style of football, which is faster. The previous teams we have played are quite slower than the Nigerians and as such we have to be very careful when we play them in the quarterfinals.”

Also, former Nigeria international, Justice Christopher, believes the match will be won by the more tactical side. The former Royal Antwerp of Belgium midfielder believes the Eaglets have to be careful to win the match.

“Brazil at any level of football are always dangerous to Nigeria,” Christopher said.

“The match can go either side judging from the statistics of the two teams. I believe the more tactical of the coaches will take the day. But with the attacking prowess of Nigeria, they should be able to beat Brazil.

“Amuneke is an experienced coach and would have studied the pattern of Brazil’s play to enable him to use the right tactics needed. The Brazilians have some good players too but if they are pressured at the back, they can cave in and concede goals,” he added.

Whichever way the pendulum swings on Sunday, pundits believe the match will live up to its billing as an interesting one – as has always been in a clash between the two sides – and that the victor of the battle of the little giants may go on to lift the trophy in Chile.