Moses returns for France
Super Eagles coach Stephen Keshi named Liverpool forward Victor Moses in the starting XI for this evening’s Round of 16 clash against France.
Moses returns to take his place which was held by injured Babatunde Michael in the team’s last Group F against Argentina.
Aside that change, there was no change from the team that started against Argentina. Defender Godfrey Oboabona who has returned to full fitness was not risked for a starting place though he makes the bench for the game.
NIGERIA LINE UP (4-3-3 formation)
Enyeama; Ambrose, Oshaniwa, Yobo, Omeruo; Onazi, Mikel, Moses; Musa, Odemwingie, Emenike
FRANCE LINE UP (4-3-3)
Lloris; Debuchy, Evra, Varane, Koscielny; Matuidi, Pogba, Cabaye; Valbuena, Giroud, Benzema
Nigeria go into this second round clash with France knowing that they are on the threshold of history if the can surmount the French obstacle.
The Super Eagles have never qualified for the quarterfinals of the Fifa World Cup and the closest they came was at USA 1994 when a Roberto Baggio-inspired Azzuri team put a halt to that dream. This time, in Brazil, they will hope to go a step further and cross the albatross.
The loss to Argentina did not do much to dampen the spirits as the Eagles will take solace in the fact that they scored twice against one of the tournament’s favourites and put a remarkable improvement from their previous group games.
Notoriously known for their slow start in tournaments, Nigeria will hope to peak at the right moment and nick their second win over Les Bleus of France in what promises to be an intriguing encounter at the Estadio Nacional in Brasilia.
Nigeria qualified for the second round of the 2014 Fifa World Cup placing second in Group F with four points, five behind Argentina who topped the group with maximum points.
The Super Eagles had to contend with Iran and Bosnia-Herzegovina in their group to get to this stage while France took top spot in Group E with seven points ahead of Switzerland, Ecuador and Honduras to book a date with Nigeria.
France were in high-scoring form during the group stages scoring a total of eight goals while conceding only two, with five of those coming from the 5-2 spanking of Switzerland in one of the games of the tournament.
Nigeria however were goal shy as the Eagles scored only three goals in their group and will have to add more gunpowder to their arsenal to face the French. Stephen Keshi knows the only way to edge out a determined French side is for his team to keep improving with every game.
Nigeria: D W L (Drew, won, lost)
France: W W D (Won, won, drew)
The June 30 clash will be the second time both teams will face each other at senior level as Nigeria and France have only met once at full international level.
Joseph Akpala’s first half goal enough to give Nigeria a 1-0 win in an international friendly at the Stade Geoffrey Guichard on June 2, 2009.
France 0 Nigeria 1 (Akplala)
France: Steve Mandanda, Julien Escude, Sebastien Squillaci, Patrice Evra, Rod Fanni, Patrick Vieira, Alou Diarra, Franck Ribery, Karim Benzema, Nicolas Anelka, Loic Remy
Nigeria: Vincent Enyeama, Sam Sodje, Elderson Echiejile, Adefemi Olubayo, Dickson Etuhu, Seyi Olofinjana, Kalu Uche, Nwankwo Kanu, Peter Odenwingie, Ikechukwu Uche, Joseph Akpala
“Nigeria are a strong team, we will not underrate them. I know Peter Odemwingie very well, he is a fast and intelligent attacker, we need to be at maximum concentration if we hope to beat the Super Eagles.” – Yohan Cabaye, France midfielder.
“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 want to know who might be lurking in the quarterfinal, we are not bothered. All I know is we must win on Monday.” – Stephen Keshi, Nigeria coach.
Players to watch
Karim Benzema: The Real Madrid attacker has flourished at this year’s tournament and has been the man behind France’s impressive run to the second round despite the insipid goalless draw with 10-man Ecuador in the last group game.
One of the few survivors of the team that lost to Nigeria the last time the two teams met. He is a man in form as he has scored eight goals in his last seven internationals to make him the man the Super Eagles defenders need to keep an eye on.
Mathieu Valbuena: The diminutive playmaker is the brain behind every creative move by the French in this tournament so far, and has been one of the driving forces of Les Bleus throughout the group stage.
A hard worker on the pitch, the Olympique Marseille midfielder is also good at set-pieces and his deliveries have helped the likes of Olivier Giroud to thrive.
Ahmed Musa: The CSKA man will be brimming with confidence after his brace and overall play against Argentina in the last group game.
He was a constant menace down the flanks against the Albiceleste and will look to continue in that form when Nigeria take on France in a bid to qualify for their first-ever quarterfinals appearance at the Fifa World Cup.
Kenneth Omeruo: The Chelsea youngster has been one of Nigeria’s standout performers at the World Cup. Touted as one of Nigeria’s brightest prospects, he has continued to give churn out impressive displays to assert the point.
He was great to watch throughout the group stages as he helped the Nigeria keep clean sheets before the final group game, where Argentina put three past the Super Eagles.
Nigeria will be missing midfielder Michael Babatunde who has been ruled out of the tournament with a fractured arm sustained in the last group game against Argentina.
Cabaye will be welcomed back by coach Didier Deschamps after missing the Ecuador game due to suspension.
1 min- Nigeria kick off
1 Min- Musa tracks back to help thwart Debuchy’s run
3 min- Nigeria win first corner of the game. Moses gives away the ball but Yobo intercepts for a corner from a French counter account
5 min- Osaze narrowly misses a chance to hit the ball hard
15 min- Osaze wins a free kick for Nigeria.
16 min- Emenike’s free kick was a waste; Moses kicked on the face by Pogba. Emenike’s goal ruled offside
19 min- Benzema flagged offside, he was close
22 min- Enyeama’s instinctive save stops Pogba’s strike
24 min- Musa wins Eagles a corner
28 min- Mikel fouled by Valbuena in aerial contest; Giroud should have been booked for attempted elbow on Mikel
33 min- Debuchy presented with a good chance but he blasts wide
37 min- Oshaniwa’s deceptive corner booted out by Varane as Eagles strikers swam around the French 18-yard box
40 min- Mikel’s inadvertent back header claimed by Enyeama
43 min- Emenike’s pile drive pushed out by Lloris but Moses could not finish off the chance
45 min- Onazi fouls Valbuena. Half time soon afterwards.
45 min- France kick off
46 min- Oshaniwa fouls Valbuena. Meanwhile Moses’ cross is put out for corner
48 min- Oshaniwa down with a knock, attended to by medics. Ambose heads out ball for France corner
52 min- Pandemonium in the French defence. Moses, then Emenike attack Les Blues. Varane is receiving treatment as ball wickedly hits his face
54 min- Matudi lunges a bad tackle on Opnazi, gets booked but the punishment was mild. Onazi is stretched off. He is to be replaced by Ramon Azeez.
58 min- Rather than Azeez, Keshi brings on Gabriel Rueben for injured Onazi. Emenike’s shot off target
62 min- Antoine Griezmann replaces Olivietr Giroud for France
64 min- Osaze hits a superb left-foot shot which Hugo Lloris deals with on second attempt
68 min- Oshaniwa acrobatically clears the ball from danger
69 min- Mikel gives Osaze a great pass which is cleared for corner
75 min- Enyeama produces a world class save, punching away the ball from danger. There are two quick corners now for France. Mikel clears the ball from danger but Cabaye’s follow-up shots hits the bar and out
83 min- Enyeama pushes out Griezmann’s thumping shot as Eagles’ defence is caught off guard. Corner
86 min- Yobo clears the ball from danger
89 min- Victor Moses is substituted by Uche Nwofor
90 min. Full time. France win, Nigeria eliminated.
How would you rate the Super Eagles’ outing at the 2014 World Cup After their Round of 16 defeat to France? What do you think is the way forward for the Eagles? Please send in your opinion and comments