Friday, October 11, 2013

World Cup Qualifier Preview:Nigeria VS. Ethiopia

AFCON defending champions, the Super Eagles will be head-to-head this weekend with Ethiopia’s Walya Antelopes in the first leg of the 2014 World Cup playoffs at the Ydnekachew Tesema Stadium, Addis Ababa. This match is highly crucial asboth sides stand a chance of either making it to next year’s FIFA World Cup, or in left out of the race, this is the playoff, no time for play!  For the Super Eagles, a win in this weekend’s encounter will put the team at an advantage seeing how the Eagles will have home field advantage in the second leg of the playoff which is scheduled to be held in Nigeria.  

Nigeria are ranked 36th in the world and 4th in Africa, with the Antelopes a distant 93rd in the FIFA rankings and 25th in the continental hierarchy. The East African made their first appearance at last Africa Cup of Nations in South Africa after a 31-year absence and finished top of their World Cup qualifying group ahead of Bafana Bafana, even after being reduced three points for fielding an ineligible player.

The two countries first met at the 1982 AFCON in Libya, where Nigeria defeated Ethiopia 3-0. Since hten, these 2 African teams have met seven times, with Nigeria winning four of those matches. Ethiopia recorded a famous victory against the Super Eagles in a 1994 Africa Cup of Nations qualifier, while two further fixtures have ended in draws. Their next meeting is the much-anticipated first-leg of the playoff, billed for October 13 in Addis Ababa, while the second leg is due to take place in Calabar on November 16 in front of a partisan U.J Esuene crowd.

Head coach of the Super Eagles Stephen Keshi recently released an unchanged squad from a recent qualifier at home to Malawi for next month's World Cup play-off in Ethiopia.
Nigeria squad:
Goalkeepers: Vincent Enyeama (Lille/FRA), Austin Ejide (Hapoel Be'er Sheva/ISR), Chigozie Agbim (Enugu Rangers)
Defenders: Elderson Echiejile (Sporting Braga/POR), Francis Benjamin (Heartland), Efe Ambrose (Celtic/SCO), Solomon Kwambe (Sunshine Stars), Godfrey Oboabona (Rizespor/TUR), Azubuike Egwuekwe (Warri Wolves), James Okwuosa (Chippa United/RSA)
Midfielders: John Obi Mikel (Chelsea/ENG), John Ogu (Academica de Coimbra/POR), Ogenyi Onazi (Lazio/ITA), Nosa Igiebor (Real Betis/SPA), Victor Moses (Liverpool/ENG), Sunday Mba (Enugu Rangers), Nnamdi Oduamadi (AC Milan/ITA)
Forwards: Ahmed Musa (CSKA Moscow/RUS), Brown Ideye (Dynamo Kiev/UKR), Shola Ameobi (Newcastle United/ENG), Emmanuel Emenike(Fenerbahce/TUR), Obinna Nsofor (Lokomotiv Moscow/RUS), Uche Nwofor (Heerenveen/NED)