At the 1989 World Youth Championship held in Saudi Arabia, Nigeria picked the Silver medal, after defeating USSR in the most pulsating semi final matches ever played in the history of the FIFA U-20 championship.
The Flying Eagles first game was against the host Country, and they defeated Saudi Arabia 2-1 with Midfielder Mutiu Adepoju and Striker Christopher Ohenhen getting the two vital goals for Nigeria. The next game was against Portugal, and it went against the expectation of the Coach Tunde Disu led Boys, who got whacked 1-0 by a strong Portuguese team. The Flying Eagles were however able to secure a quarterfinal ticket after securing a 1-1 draw against Czechoslovakia in their final group game. Christopher Ohenhen once again rescued a point for Nigeria by scoring the decisive equalizer in the 72nd minutes of play.
The quarterfinal game saw the Flying Eagles been paired with USSR.
The game was played in Dammam, and was later re-named “the miracle of Dammam”.
This was a game that saw Nigeria trailing by 4-0 with few minutes to the end of the decisive quarterfinal match. Legendary Oleg Salenko of USSR was among the scorers in that memorable match. In the space of 30 minutes, Nigeria fought back to equalize 4-4 and take the match into penalty shoot-out. The comeback was started by star player- Christopher Ohenhen who scored a brace in the 61st and 75th minutes to bring scores to 4-2 with 15 minutes of play left in regulation time. Samuel Elijah, who was later nicknamed “Prophet” Samuel Elijah scored in the 83rd minutes of play reduce the tally to 4-3, before inspirational captain Nduka Ugbade came from nowhere to level score 4-4 with an incredible equalizer in the 84th minutes. The Russians were stunned beyond their imagination. The match had to go into penalties after the expiration of 90 minutes, and the Nigerians triumph 5-3, after Mirdjalal Kasimov missed his spot kick to bring the game to an anti climax. It was the greatest come back in the history of world football till date.
In the semi finals, the Flying Eagles narrowly defeated USA 2-1 after the game had to go into another extra time with the games tied at 1-1 in regulation time. Mutiu Adepoju who later became an integral part of the Super Eagles of Nigeria scored both goals that eliminated USA from the tournament. In goal for USA on that memorable day, was goalkeeper Kasey Keller who later became a household name in world football.
It was a tired looking Flying Eagles team that qualified for the Final of the 1989 FIFA World Youth Championship, after playing two successive games that went into penalty shoot-out. This was to prove decisive, as the Flying Eagles were defeated 2-0 by Portugal, who had earlier beaten them 1-0 at the group stage.
Source by Clement Sadjere