Nigeria served notice of their menace at the ongoing FIFA Under-20 World Cup in Poland on Friday, hitting four unanswered goals past underdogs Qatar in Tychy.
A double in each half underlined the dominance of the two-time runners-up: but the standout performer on the day was Flying Eagles captain Ikouwem Utin, who assisted twice in the opening period.
A fast start saw the Asians quickly pegged back, and in the 12th minute, Utin was up from the back to fire a shot with the outside of his left boot goalward from a tight angle. Qatar goalkeeper Shehab Mamdouh could only parry, and the rebound broke kindly for winger Maxwell Effiom to turn the ball in at the far post.
Twelve minutes, the second arrived. Again, it was at the end of a storming run from Utin, the left-back riding a couple of challenges before pulling the ball back for Okechukwu Offia to redirect into the bottom corner.
Nigeria continued to enjoy large swathes of possession, but the threat of a glut slowly ebbed away thanks to a combination of fine Qatari goalkeeping and poor decision-making. In fact, the Asian side came close to pulling one back: Yusuf Abdurisag saw the whites of Olawale Oremade’s eyes, but his shot was blocked by the sliding challenge of Rabiu Zulkifilu before it could test the Nigeria goalkeeper.
After the half-time break, Offia had a chance to make it three after going clear, but Mamdouh produced a fine save to thwart the burly forward.
For all his heroics, Mamdouh was then in error for the third goal, chipping a casual clearance to Kingsley Michael. The midfielder slipped his partner Tom Dele-Bashiru through on goal, and the Manchester City youngster was unerring in his finish to cap off a superb showing.
Aliu Salawudeen’s predatory finish inside the box after a corner was headed down by Akor Adams completed the rout.
Nigeria will next engage the USA on Monday.