Despite sealing their place in the round of 16 of the ongoing FIFA U-20 World Cup, Ukraine goalkeeper Andriy Lunin has warned his teammates not to underrate Nigeria as the West African players are fast and determined as well as endowed with a lot of skills.
Lunin has already won his first senior cap for Ukraine, playing the full 90 minutes in a 1-1 friendly draw against Saudi Arabia on 23 March 2018, told FIFA.com that he believes they are poised to top the group with a total victory against the Nigeria’s Flying Eagles.
“We’re playing every three days here and we need to recover physically for the next match against Nigeria,” said Lunin, whose strengths are his ability with the ball at his feet and his knack for saving penalties. “The Nigeria players are fast and determined and they’ve got a lot of skill too. We want first place, though.
“We want to make the quarter-finals for the first time in our history,” said Lunin, “but for now we’re just focusing on our third match against Nigeria.
“It’s too soon to start talking about winning the title. The important thing for us is to take it step by step. We’ve got one group game to go before the second phase starts, so we’re obviously not thinking about the final right now. If we can win all our matches, then we’ll be the champions,” he added.
The Ukrainian keeper attracted the attention of several European clubs, including Liverpool and Roma, while at Zorya Luhansk. He put pen to paper on a six-year contract with Real Madrid in 2018 and spent last season on loan at Leganes to gain experience. “My dream wasn’t just to sign for Real but to be the first-choice keeper there,” he told FIFA.com. “That’s why I keep on working hard.”
After impressing in their Poland 2019 opener against USA, Ukraine maintained their perfect start with a win over Qatar to move through to the last 16. He conceded only once against the Americans, and Lunin kept a clean sheet against Al-Annabi, pulling off some fine stops in the process.
The Ukrainians now take on Nigeria today with top spot in the group in their sights.