Super Eagle’ Manager, Lars Largerback has hinted he would make some changes to the team that met Argentina in the team’s opening World Cup match last Saturday in order to ensure a more formidable force.
Super Eagles is meeting Greece on Thursday and it is an encounter Nigeria cannot afford to loose, not even playing a draw.
Bothe Nigeria and Greece are facing a sudden death encounter with both teams knowing that failure to secure a first win at the on going tournament would compromise their chances of making the knock-out phase.
To achieve a win, Nigeria’s Swedish coach Lars Lagerback has hinted he may shuffle his squad to find the right combination against Greece.
‘I can’t rule out the possibility of a few changes,’ Lagerback said, speaking at a press briefing at the Super Eagles base camp in Richard’s Bay before the team’s departure for Bloemfontein.
Nigeria’s goalkeeper, Vincent Enyeama, sent a message to try to reassure the fans back home after his team’s 0-1 loss to Argentina in their Group B opener:
“The encounter with the Greeks in Free State Stadium here would be a ‘tough one,’ the Hapoel Tel Aviv goalkeeper told Nigerian daily This Day.
“But there is no way we will lose, (and) getting a point will not be good enough,’ Enyeama said.
Enyeama has the heart of the world following his excellent performance in the encounter against the Argies. His exploits between the posts, including several stunning saves against Lionel Messi, helped to keep the scoreline down against Argentina which clearly missed about five goals, thanks to Enyeama’s outstanding goal keeping show.
Wolfsburg striker Obafemi Martins and Osaze Odemwingie, who stars for Locomotiv Moscow, are likely to start the game.
Obinna Nsofor, who played alongside Everton striker Yakubu Aiyegbeni in a two-man strike force, failed to shine against Argentina and should lose his place to Martins, who showed more purpose when he replaced the Malaga striker early in the second half.
After their loss to the Argentinians the Super Eagles still earned some praise for their display, mainly for those occasions when they tore open their South American opponent’s midfield and defence.
The Greeks must be seen as a much easier prey than the two-time World Cup champions.
They have yet to score a single goal or earn a single point in the World Cup finals.
The Greeks made their only other appearance in the tournament in the 1994 edition played in the United States, losing all three of their games, including a 0-2 defeat against Nigeria.
The Euro 2004 champions coached by Otto Rehhagel were comprehensively beaten 0-2 by South Korea in their first match in South Africa.
The loss triggered outrage in Greece with one newspaper suggesting the team should be brought home to spare the nation further blushes- and this is why Thursday’s encounter remain a do –or die affair with the Greek side.
Defender Vassili Torosidis gave a somewhat sombre assessment of Greece’s chances against Nigeria.
‘To be honest, there can be no transformation in five days, not for any team,’ he said.
‘What we need to be is very stubborn and to show this on the pitch. Even if we don’t win, we won’t be disappointed as long as we play well.’
Going into the Bloemfontein game both teams have one yellow-carded player: Vasilios Torosidis for Greece and midfielder Lukman Haruma for Nigeria.
The good news for Lagerback is that Olympique Marseille left back Taye Taiwo is fit for the game after suffering muscle cramps aganst Argentina, while Locomotiv Moscow striker Osaze Odemwingieand Wolfsburg’s Obafemi Martins are likely to start ahead of Chinedu Obasi and Obinna Nsoforrespectively.
In another development, Monaco youngster Lukman Haruna has told MTNFootball.com he owes his World Cup breakthrough to Nigeria coach, Lars Lagerback.
At 19, Haruna is the youngest member of the Nigerian World Cup squad, and he did not only gate-crash into South Africa 2010 but also started and finished the Group B match against Argentina at the weekend.
“At the beginning of last season, I did not think I would be playing at the World Cup. However, I was still hopeful that as long as I was doing well at my club, I will be considered for the World Cup,” he admitted.
“But the white man (Swede coach Lars Lagerback) is someone who believes in a player’s ability and that is why I’m here in South Africa.”
The midfielder, who won his first competitive cap for Nigeria on Saturday against Argentina in front of a 56,000-strong crowd, said he did not feel any pressure when he came up against the star-studded South Americans.
“I was not under any pressure even up against a big team like Argentina because I know how to play football. We gave a good account of ourselves and will now focus on our next game against Greece,” said Haruna.
He also told MTNFootball.com that he believes his World Cup debut should now serve as a challenge for young Nigerian players to also fight their way into the full international side.
“I got my chance and I took it. I hope they also get their chance and take it,” said Haruna, who was tipped alongside other promising youngsters like Rabiu Ibrahim, Macauley Chrisantus and Kingsley Udoh to be the future of Nigerian football after they won the 2007 FIFA Under-17 World Cup.
Argentina and South Korea enter their meeting in Johannesburg tied atop Group B with 3 points, each team confident after strong opening-match performances.
Lionel Messi outplayed Nigeria’s defense last Saturday but failed to score despite taking eight shots. He remains the key to Coach
Diego Maradona’s dynamic offense. In South Korea’s opener, Park Ji-sung displayed his best qualities in a single goal-scoring move, snatching a loose ball, fending off a challenge on a dribbling run and finishing with a low, clean shot.
Greece vs. Nigeria
Greece and Nigeria meet for a crucial game in Bloemfontein, with each team trying to stay alive in Group B. Greece Coach Otto Rehhagel is known for his devotion to defense, but his players looked clumsy and pedestrian trying to defend South Korea’s quick passing game. Nigeria fared better against Argentina and looked dangerous in a losing effort. But the Super Eagles have not been taking a victory against Greece for granted. Coach Lars Lagerback said he was pleased with his players’ spirit, but he hinted that there would be changes in his lineup.
France vs. Mexico
France’s match against Mexico in Polokwane could be a reckoning for its coach, Raymond Domenech. After watching France tie Uruguay, 0-0,
Zinédine Zidane, one of France’s most revered players, said Domenech was “not a coach.” Domenech has been criticized endlessly since taking over in 2004, but Zidane’s comments could hurt him, and his prospects, the most. Mexico was unlucky to tie South Africa in the tournament’s opening game and will give France a stiff challenge. Rafael Márquez, who scored the team’s lone goal last week, may not play after injuring a calf.
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