The Flying Eagles, who finished third at the recent African Youth Championship in Algeria, are drawn against Portugal, debutants Cuba and South Korea in Group B based in Kayseri.
Portugal beat Nigeria 2-1 at the recent Toulon International Tournament in France as a prelude to Friday’s showdown.
But the Flying Eagles played a mostly experimental side in Toulon as they tried out several new and fringe players ahead of the World Cup.
Midfielder, Ovbokha Agboyi was one of several of the established players who did not play in Toulon and he said it was crucial to get off to a winning start against a good Portugal team in Kayseri.
“The opening game is very important for us. We lost our first game to Mali at the AYC and it really affected us. We cannot afford this at the World Cup,” the Bayelsa United defensive midfielder declared.
“We saw Portugal in Toulon and they are a good team and so we have to be at our best on Friday.”
Nigeria German assistant coach, Jurgen Press said he rates Portugal very highly. “Portugal will be one of the top four teams at this World Cup. They are tactically sound and parade some very experienced players,” he said.
“But we also have a good team and have picked up a few interesting things about them in Toulon which we hope to use in our favour on Friday.”
The coaches will most likely keep faith with the team to the AYC with new players Wilfred Ndidi and Michael Olaitan best as covers for starters like Chizoba Amaefule, Ikechukwu Okorie and skipper Abduljaleel Ajagun. Kick-off time is 7pm Nigerian time.