Lagos — Super Eagles of Nigeria will be on the brink of making history as the third African team to reach the quarter final stages of the FIFA World Cup as its faces high-flying France at the Estádio Nacional Mané Garrincha today.
Nigeria's preparations for the game were disrupted by a dispute over bonuses an issue which delayed the squad's arrival at last year's Confederations Cup but the matter was resolved following the reported intervention of Nigerian president Goodluck Jonathan.
The last time the Super Eagles came close to achieving this feat was in US 94' when the team lost to an experienced Italian side 2-1 and in France 98 when the team also crashed out to Denmark 4-1 in an unfashionable manner, in-spite of its splendid form in the group stage, where the team defeated favourites Spain 3-2, Bulgaria 1-0 and lost 3-1 to Paraguay.
The Nigerian team knows that a defeat at this stage of the competitions simply means its dream of making Africa proud will be over, however, the team may want to be cautious with its style of play compared to how it played during the group stage; drawing its opening match against ran (0-0), defeating Bosnia (1-0) and gallantly losing 3-2 against Argentina.
On paper, the French side looks untouchable considering the fact that the team topped its group with seven points, beating Honduras (3-0) Switzerland (5-2) before playing goalless against Ecuador in its final game.
The last time both teams met on June 2009 during an international friendly at
Stade Geoffroy-Guichard (Saint-Ètienne) France, the Super Eagles pipped Les Blues 1-0 thanks to Joseph Akpala and would be determine to replicate such feat today irrespective of the arrays of stars its opponent parade.
Super Eagles coach Stephen Keshi said victory over France today for a place in the last eight of the 2014 World Cup is "non-negotiable".
"I said before the tournament that our mentality must be strong. Our approach to every match has always been the same: to win," Keshi restated.
"Whether we are playing against Spain at the FIFA Confederations Cup or playing against Liberia in a friendly match, I always tell the boys that victory is non-negotiable.
"For us, we will go into Monday's match aiming to win. But as I also said before the competition, we take it one match at a time.
"We don't even want to think of who might be lurking in the quarter finals if we win; we are not bothered. All we know is that we must win today."
While attention will be focused on Ahmed Musa due to the brace he had against Argentina on Wednesday, the likes of Osaze Odemwingie, Emmanuel Emenike and Victor Moses may just spring up to give the Eagles the all needed goals that will shatter France's dream of making the quarters.
Besides, Les Blues is also not short of talented and creative players such as Mathieu Valbuena, Paul Pogba and Yohan Cabaye coupled with the attacking power of Karim Benzema and Oliveir Giroud.
Both teams may want to rely on its physicality and pace in order to make any sort of breakthrough considering the fact that it did not have that individual quality that can take the game to the opponent such as Lionel Messi and Colombia's Rodriguez.
The Super Eagles will miss the services of Babatunde Michael during to arm injury against Argentina, leaving returnee Victor Moses to really make a perfect comeback by putting every feet right while France will also miss the services of Mamadou Sakho due to a thigh injury.
There may be a stiff competitions between Joseph Yobo and Godfrey Oboabona on who will pair Kenneth Omeruo in the heart of the Eagles defence, knowing that Yobo has not done so badly in the games he has played while Oboabona did pretty well in the opening clash against Iran but was stretched off due to injury which made him missed the games between Bosnia and Argentina.