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If you were born after the 80’s, you probably may not remember Nigeria’s famed U-16 team that stunned the world to win the first ever U-16 FIFA World Championship, hosted in China in 1985.

Matches were played in the cities of Beijing, Shanghai, Tianjin, and Dalian, with a total attendance record of about 1.23 million people, only surpassed by the 2017 India U-17 World cup, with a record attendance of 1,347,133.

A total of 16 teams from 6 confederations competed for the top honor at the championship.

The teams that qualified for the tournament include hosts China, Guinea, United States and Bolivia, in Group A.

Australia, West Germany, Argentina and Congo were selected into Group B of the tournament.

Nigeria, Saudi Arabia, Italy and Costa Rica made up Group C, while Hungary, Mexico Brazil and Qatar were selected into Group D.

Nigeria qualified from the group stage as runner-ups alongside Saudi Arabia who won in group C.

The odds were not exactly in favor of the Nigerian team, seeing as they barely qualified for the knockout stage of the championship.

However, the world was yet to see the best of Nigeria and our boys were ready to prove themselves regardless of who they went up against.

Nigeria defeated Hungary 3-1 in the quarterfinal, to book a place in the semifinal of the tournament.

West Germany defeated China and went on to defeat Brazil, who also defeated Saudi Arabia in the quarterfinal.

Nigeria played an all-African semi-final game against Guinea, which extended into penalty rounds after a 1-1 a.e.t draw.

Nigerian won 4-2 on penalties to book a spot in the final against West Germany.

Having fully dealt with the impostor syndrome of making it to the final of the first ever FIFA U-16 World Championship, the Eaglets were ready to give their all on the pitch, and they did.

Nigeria trounced Germany 2-0 on August 11, 1985, in Beijing to become the first ever FIFA U-16 World Champion.

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This article was first published on 15th July 2019


Achem Samuel is a writer and a musician, he is passionate about God and also an ardent fan of tech, sports and music.

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