Hello there, I know that the sports fans across the globe are now enjoying the World Cup, my column for today is on the Nigerian team and the players used in the country’s World Cup qualification and the minutes the players contributed to see the country go through to the World Cup in Brazil.
African Nations Cup holders Nigeria arrive in Brazil with realistic expectations of reaching the second round of the 2014 World Cup.
Coach Stephen Keshi has built a young side which dramatically overachieved in South Africa last year, although demonstrated that they are still a work in progress with a disappointing Confederations Cup campaign.
Keshi will look to the likes of goalkeeper Vincent Enyeama, midfielder John Obi Mikel, winger Ahmed Musa and forward Emmanuel Emenike to fire them out of a group consisting of Argentina, Bosnia-Herzegovina and Iran. In March, the Nigerian Football Federation, NFF, were forced to deny that they will appoint a foreign assistant to coach Stephen Keshi, insisting that the man who led them to their first African Nations Cup title since 1994 had full support.
In the past, the federation has been architect of its own downfall by failing to sort out payments to players before the finals. Keshi will hope that any squad unrest can be avoided by each player knowing what they are due to be paid prior to the event which kicked off on June 12.
Keshi has attempted to foster a strong team spirit within the camp, omitting players such as Mikel, whom he felt did not have enough respect for his fellow countrymen. The Chelsea midfielder is now back in favor and will be desperate to impress on the biggest stage after missing the disappointing 2010 World Cup campaign through injury.
Nigeria cruised through qualifying thanks, in part, to a less than challenging draw, which saw them comfortably top their group before easing past Ethiopia in a two-legged play-off.
Best World Cup Result: Second-Round (1994 and 1998)
Best African Nations Cup Result: Winners (1980, 1994 and 2013)
Record Scorer: Rashidi Yekini (37 goals between 1986 and 1998)
Most Capped Player: Joseph Yobo
Coach: Stephen Keshi
Captain: Joseph Yobo
Stand-in Captain: Vincent Enyeama
Provisional 30-man Nigeria 2014 World Cup Squad
Goalkeepers: Vincent Enyeama (Lille FC, France); Austin Ejide (Hapoel Be’er Sheva, Israel), Daniel Akpeyi (Warri Wolves), Chigozie Agbim (Gombe United)
Defenders: Elderson Echiejile (AS Monaco, France)-Dropped); Efe Ambrose (Celtic, Scotland); Godfrey Oboabona (Rizespor, Turkey); Azubuike Egwuekwe (Warri Wolves); Kenneth Omeruo (Middlesbrough, England); Juwon Oshaniwa (Ashdod FC, Israel); Joseph Yobo (Norwich City, England); Kunle Odunlami (Sunshine Stars).
Midfielders: John Mikel Obi (Chelsea, England); Ramon Azeez (Almeria FC, Spain); Ogenyi Onazi (SS Lazio, Italy); Joel Obi (Parma, Italy); Nnamdi Oduamadi (Varese, Italy); Ejike Uzoenyi (Enugu Rangers), Nosa Igiebor (Real Betis, Spain), Sunday Mba (CA Bastia, France), Reuben Gabriel (Waasland-Beveren, Belgium), Michael Babatunde (Volyn Lutsk, Ukraine).
Forwards : Ahmed Musa (CSKA Moscow, Russia); Shola Ameobi (Newcastle United, England); Emmanuel Emenike (Fenerbahce, Turkey); Obinna Nsofor (Chievo Verona, Italy); Peter Odemwingie (Stoke City, England), Michael Uchebo (Cercle Brugge, Belgium); Victor Moses (Liverpool, England), Uche Nwofor (Heerenveen, Holland).
The Coach: Stephen Keshi
Became only the second person to win the African Cup of Nations as player and coach when he guided Nigeria to the trophy last year. Keshi sees himself as a fatherly figure to his young players, although he guards against complacency by stressing that no one is guaranteed a starting spot. Led Togo to the 2006 World Cup in Germany only to be fired before the tournament began.
Player to watch: Emmanuel Emenike
The Fenerbahce striker characterizes Nigeria’s reliance on strength and pace more than most. He has an impressive goalscoring record for the Super Eagles and netted four times in last year’s African Nations Cup triumph, leading to his inclusion in the team of the tournament.
Sunday 16th June Vs Iran (Curitiba)
Saturday 21st June Vs Bosnia-Herzegovina (Cuiaba)
Wednesday 25th June Vs Argentina (Porto Alegre)
Nigeria played 8 matches and used 32 players for the qualifying games
Player Club(s) Minutes played in qualifying rounds
Vincent Enyeama Lille (FRA), Maccabi Tel Aviv(ISR), Lille(FRA) 720 mins
Godfrey Oboabona Sunshine Stars (NGA), Caykur Rizespor (TUR) 720 mins
Efetobore Ambrose MS Ashdod (ISR), Celtic (SCO) 630 mins
Elderson Echiejile Braga (POR) 540 mins
John Mikel Chelsea (ENG) 540 mins
Eddy Onazi Lazio (ITA) 522 mins
Ahmed Musa CSKA Moskva (RUS) 517 mins
Victor Moses Wigan (ENG), Chelsea (ENG), Liverpool (ENG) 402 mins
Azubuike Egwuekwe Warri Wolves (NGA) 382 mins
Nnamdi Oduamadi Varese (ITA), Brescia (ITA) 345 mins
Kenneth Omeruo ADO Den Haag (NED), Chelsea (ENG) 338 mins
Emmanuel Emenike Fenerbahçe (TUR) 264 mins
Sunday Mba Warri Wolves (NGA), Bastia (FRA) 251 mins
Ideye Brown Dynamo Kyiv (UKR) 240 mins
Reuben Gabriel Kano Pillars (NGA) 180 mins
Juwon Oshaniwa Sharks FC (NGA) 180 mins
Ikechuwku Uche Granada (ESP) 180 mins
Ejike Uzoenyi Enugu Rangers (NGA) 180 mins
Nwankwo Obiora Gubbio (ITA) 143 mins
John Utaka Montpellier (FRA) 143 mins
Anthony Ujah Köln (GER) 112 mins
John Ogu Académica de Coimbra (POR) 103 mins
Solomon Kwambe Sunshine Stars (NGA) 90 mins
Obafemi Martins Seattle Sounders (USA) 60 mins
Nosa Igiebor Real Betis (ESP) 44 mins
Kalu Uche Espanyol (ESP) 34 mins
Henry Uche Enyimba (NGA) 22 mins
Raheem Lawal Atlético Baleares (ESP) 15 mins
Victor Obinna Lokomotiv Moskva (RUS) 11 mins
Shola Ameobi Newcastle (ENG) 6 mins
Fegor Ogude Valerenga Fotball (NOR) 4 mins
Uche Nwofor Heerenveen (NED) 2 mins
Prediction: Group Stage
Barring a set of unpredictable results, it seems likely that Argentina will be comfortable group winners, Iran will collect the wooden spoon, and Nigeria and Bosnia-Herzegovina will be fighting it out for second place. The Europeans were impressive in qualifying and the clash in Cuiaba on June 21 will probably decide who progresses.
Join me again for another edition, till then, have a nice day and poke in some goals for now and the future.
Only goals and consistency that makes a different in life.
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