29 June 2014

Nigeria: Super Eagles Go in Search of History in Brazil

Photo: Gavin Barker/BackpagePix
Nigeria's Ahmed Musa provided striker Emmanuel Emenike with a low ball to score, but the goal was disallowed after an offside call which gave the Super Eagles cause to feel aggrieved.

Nigeria will go in search of history when they take on France in their World Cup second round match in Brasília on Monday.


Twice before Nigeria have reached the second round of the World Cup, but on both occasions in 1994 and 1998, they exited in the first knockout stage.

On the first, they were unfortunate to lose to Italy, who would go all the way to the final before being thumped 4-1 by Denmark in France four years later.

Although the Super Eagles go into the game as underdogs, they must feel they have a chance against an erratic opponent who can be brilliant, but sometimes below-par too.

Nigeria's passage to this point was built on the 1-0 victory over Bosnia-Herzegovina in the pool stages. Either side of that were a disappointing 0-0 draw with Iran and a thrilling 3-2 loss to Argentina.

That latter game revealed a lot about this Super Eagles side; they have the punch in the forward line to hurt teams, but are also prone to comic moments in defence.

The Nigerians became the third African side involved in this tournament to have a very public spat with their football federation over bonuses and although the matter has allegedly been resolved, who knows what scars it has left behind.

Coach Stephen Keshi is sweating over the fitness of forward Victor Moses and defender Geoffrey Oboabona, with the latter especially doubtful.

France put in one of the most impressive performances of the tournament so far when they thumped Switzerland 5-2 in their second match before being held 0-0 by Ecuador in a showing that would have disappointed coach Didier Deschamps.

France have also managed two clean-sheets so far, and were minutes away from a third before the Swiss netted those two late goals in a game already won.


Joseph Yobo (Nigeria) - Yobo was not first choice at the start of this tournament but injury means he has been forced into the side. In a knockout games such as this one, you need players who have “been there, done that” and they don't come more experienced than Yobo. He should bring calmness and organization under pressure to the Super Eagles back-line.

Karim Benzema (France) - Benzema has proven his worth for this French side already in the tournament and is their chief attacking threat. He can score goals from anywhere and also creates chances for teammates. The Real Madrid man is probably in the form of his life.


Joseph Yobo (Nigeria defender) - "We've just played against the best forward in the world [Lionel Messi], so we're ready to measure ourselves against anybody. I don't see what we should be afraid of. I believe in this team, and I think we can do it."

Didier Deschamps (France coach) - "They will undoubtedly cause us problems on a physical level and they have forwards who can make the difference at any moment.”


Date: Monday, June 30

Kick-off: 16h00 (GMT)

Venue: Estádio Nacional Mané Garrincha, Brasília

Referee: Mark Geiger (United States)



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