Victor Obinna will have the chance to prove he has what it takes for the Super Eagles

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Nigeria vs South Africa: Beyond Enemy Lines

Nigeria vs South Africa Super Eagles squad analysis

Posted: 14 August 2013 Time: 9:28 am

While today’s match between Nigeria and South Africa is merely a friendly, with nothing major at stake, the rivalry between the two continental giants will not be ignored.

Each nation has enjoyed glorious moments in their past, but right now the difference between them could not be more marked.

While Bafana Bafana are facing the prospect of a summer without a World Cup, following disappointing results against Ethiopia and Botswana, Nigeria are the reigning champions of Africa.

Stephen Keshi’s young and talented side are by no means assured of a spot at Brazil 2014, but they are on an upwards trajectory and look to have an exciting era ahead of them.

How Gordon Igesund would relish both the recent achievement and the irrepressible potential of the current crop of Super Eagles.

This article looks into the Nigeria camp ahead of tonight’s friendly and runs down the Super Eagles side likely to contest this box office African clash.

Goalkeeper

Vincent Enyeama, Nigeria’s nominal number one, is currently enjoying a second ‘first start’ at Ligue 1 side Lille.

The stopper was shipped out on loan last season, after having arrived in northern France back in the summer 2012, but has impressed after having been handed the responsibility this term.

Despite some decent saves against Spain in the Confederations Cup, and his good start to life in Lille, Enyeama finds himself axed for the South Africa friendly. His blunders against Uruguay, it seems, have cost him the faith of Keshi, allowing Austin Ejide to step in and challenge for the number one jersey.

Ejide is an accomplished keeper, a long-time backup, who will realise the value of the opportunity placed before him.

 

Centre-backs

Chelsea youngster Kenneth Omeruo, who has emerged as a vital component of Keshi’s first XI since integrating himself into the side during the Afcon, is absent.

The defender suffered a relapse of the shoulder injury that prematurely curtailed his participation at the Confederations Cup and remains in London.

The complication may well rule him out of the Super Eagles’ crucial World Cup Qualifier against Malawi – a fact that makes Azubuike Egwuekwe’s likely participation against South Africa all the more important.

The defender is bold, imposing, strong and diligent and most importantly has forged an accomplished partnership with Godfrey Oboabona. The Warri Wolves centre-back will look to rekindle the astute understanding the pair enjoyed during 2012, and an impressive outing will help Keshi resist the urge to recall Joseph Yobo.

 

Full-backs

Efe Ambrose, on the right flank, and Elderson Echiejile, on the left, have grown into their roles since being given starting berths by Keshi. They both demonstrated their increasing attacking awareness and adventurousness at the Confederations Cup and look assured.

Elderson has been earmarked by English Premier League side Everton as a replacement for Leighton Baines should he depart, while Ambrose can look forward to another year of Champions League competition with Celtic.

 

Midfield

John Obi Mikel’s absence after being laid low with a stomach bug is a blow for Nigeria, who base their game upon the Chelsea man’s measured, majestic displays in the heart of the park.

Mikel both holds the team’s structure and shape, and inspires with occasional flashes of brief, esoteric creativity.

In his place, greater attacking burden will fall upon Sunday Mba.

The Enugu Rangers man burst onto the scene at the Cup of Nations, where his pertinent contributions sealed triumph for Nigeria and etched the midfielder’s name into the annals of history.

Since then, however, complications in his club career have seemingly affected his fitness and performance. His outings at the Confederations Cup were muted, to say the least, and the added responsibility may make or break his short term future with the national side.

Alongside him, Ogenyi Onazi should return following his Confederations Cup absence. Onazi is another youngster who has emerged as a crucial cog of the side, and the energy, anticipation and grit that he brings to the team ought not be understated.

As for the third spot in the midfield three, John Ogu might be asked to offer creativity, Nnamdi Oduamadi could drop into a deeper role, or Fegor Ogude might be employed as a second pragmatic talent.

This will be a big call for Keshi to make, and one that may well indicate his intentions ahead of the crunch contest with Malawi.

 

Forwards

Up front, the misadventures of a whole host of forwards at the Confederations Cup have resulted in the omission of Joseph Akpala and Anthony Ujah from the latest squad. 

Emmanuel Emenike is another who has not made the trip, as he has been afforded time to acclimatise to life at his new club, Fenerbahce.

Ideye Brown and Ahmed Musa have rejoined the squad, but need to improve their decision-making and finishing in the rarefied context of international football. The Mandela Challenge clash will be a prime occasion for them to show Keshi that his faith is not misplaced.

The recall of Victor Obinna is intriguing. The versatile frontman has never quite matched the expectations that accompanied him during the early stages of his career with Internazionale in the Serie A, but has a chance to prove that he can still contribute to the national side.

The return of Victor Moses will be a boon for the team, but it is unlikely that his long-term international future will be matched by veteran Shola Ameobi.

The Newcastle man looked set to make the Afcon squad earlier in the year, before a clause in his contract prevented his participation. A suspected rift with Keshi looks to have healed, and Ameobi returns to the squad with the World Cup as a very alluring objective. He will not bring longevity or goals, but his experience and imposing physique is clearly of interest to the Big Boss.

The clash with South Africa will provide Ameobi and the others mentioned with a perfect opportunity to prove to the manager both that they can play an instant role in the upcoming contest with Malawi, and that they can continue this exciting era under Keshi.

 

Article by: Ed Dove

Previous comments on this story...

Bucsaway Trebble Champ
posted: 09:36 am
Pity the only team that could beat Nigeria is resting for Saturday's big match
Bafunny Bafunny and their Hlokoloza Captain are going to embarass the country
once more today but alas Bucs will redeem the shame

Bucs Lead, Others Follow

Once And Always
Gold & Black Rhino
posted: 09:47 am
Those who Pull out their Players in Nelson Mandela Cup they will never win anycup Antill they say Sorry to Madiba.
Anyway Bafana will win this Game 2-1.
Love & Peace.
IvoryPark OrlandoPIrates Branch
posted: 09:52 am
I am not happy about our South African defence not at all Matoho at least Thabo Nthete Mr Cool
De Bruin!!!
posted: 09:55 am
""""the rivalry between the two continental giants will not be ignored""""
There is no denying that ze Drug sellers are Continental Giants just like Bucs but, what other "Continental" giant is gon' play Nigeria? Bafana ain't close to being that.

Get your Facts straight please.
Bucs Fan.
Anonymous
posted: 09:57 am
Good squad by the nigerians it shows once again that they take soccer seriously. What a game it will be and I wish pierats players were there also anyway good luck to SA.
Nespray is a movie star look alike coach
posted: 09:57 am
Nigerians will whip their a$$es.

watch out for my man, Musa
Anonymous
posted: 09:59 am
why am I called anonymous now.
Jjd
posted: 10:01 am
Victor Moses is a lion that was loosed. I trust him to do what he knew best. He was not in the confd Cup. Now we are happy you are back. 9ja wish you the best.
De Bruin!!!
posted: 10:01 am
Good luck Bafana but know that all Soccer knowledgeable people don't expect you to win nor draw. I'm proud to be a South African and Nigeria can not take that away even if they go ahead with giving us a tennis scoreline as planned.

Bucs Fan.
The CV Chef MUST Die
posted: 10:04 am
Naijas are gonna give GI a free football lesson.

We shall not travel for 6 hours just for nothing - Keshi
dlakadlaka4bucabuca
posted: 11:17 am
@De Bruin

""""the rivalry between the two continental giants will not be ignored""""
There is no denying that ze Drug sellers are Continental Giants just like Bucs but, what other "Continental" giant is gon' play Nigeria? Bafana ain't close to being that.
-----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Im with you there, Only 1 Giant facing African Minors infested with Zebras.
Hockey score is wat im expecting. Nigeria 7 - 0 South Africa. 6 goals by Nigeria and 1 own goal from ''JJ okPARKER AmoeBERNARD''

Get your Facts straight please.
Bucs Fan.
Chykeo
posted: 11:41 am
Oduamadi is a true bait for the outside left position with Victor playing from the right.Ameobi is sure centre forward as we shall have to make do with Ideye and Musa in the supporting attack position for Ameobi,just because Osaze and Emenike is not avail.The midfield will give Mba and Onazi the space they need to operate as they both seem to be the best we can afford now due to illness on the maestro,Mikel.I am confident with Ambrose,Echiejile,Oboabona and Ezekiel defense frame..with these soldiers on..we shall make a mince meat of the enemy!!! Cant see the Eagles conceding a goal with their safest hands,Enyeama in the post!!!!
atosandy
posted: 11:44 am
See the way South Africans are rubishing their team! Where is patriotism? Although, I am a Nigerian, I don't think any player deserve the kind of insult they receive on the site, just because they are playing for a rival clubs.
atosandy
posted: 11:46 am
See the way South Africans are rubishing their team! Where is patriotism? Although, I am a Nigerian, I don't think any player deserve the kind of insult they receive on this site, just because they are playing for a rival club.
Chykeo
posted: 11:49 am
I believe Mikel and Omeruo feigned injuries and sickness,Mourinho is at it again!!!We want these players to be playing every game for Nigeria to make them blend on time before the main bowl,brazil 2014.This is what Okocha did the last time we played the mandela cup,it was believed Mandela himself gave him a call and after the call he reported stomach upset but went ahead to play for Bolton Wanderers days after.Nigeria eventually lost that match 1 goal to 2 for the first time in the history of soccer between both nations...dat was then.Dont think it will repeat again,ok?BOYS!! 2 goals to 0 will be ideal result......PLS!!!
Mavisto *''DOWNS\"*
posted: 12:00 pm
Nigeria will win 3 - 0 these bafunny bazebra are useless.
cmash
posted: 12:56 pm
atosandy

posted: 11:44 am | Report

See the way South Africans are rubishing their team! Where is patriotism? Although, I am a Nigerian, I don't think any player deserve the kind of insult they receive on the site, just because they are playing for a rival clubs

dude dnt waste ur time with these people.. its just mental slavery
KhosiNyce01
posted: 01:12 pm
atosandy
posted: 11:44 am | Report
See the way South Africans are
rubishing their team! Where is
patriotism? Although, I am a
Nigerian, I don't think any player
deserve the kind of insult they
receive on this site, just because
they are playing for a rival club.
________________________________________

Great comment ma man. Pity we've been preaching this gospel ever since the national coach decided 2 select players who consistently perform for their club nd even won the league with their club.

Wait for the post match comments 2 see just how low some people can stoop.
KhosiNyce01
posted: 01:21 pm
Since AJ15 was excluded, these selfish Rats have decided 2 abandon the national team, some even proudly displaying other team's national anthems. Really this shows a lack of fundamental principles.

2 even wish ur own fellow countrymen would lose, nd even calling them names just coz they play for a team u don't like smacks of clear ignorance nd being slaves 2 ur inferiority complexes. I mean really now.

Everywhere u go, regardless of their team's fifa ramking, u will never see people support another country at the expense of their own motherland.

U don't c Arsenal fans complain when only walcott @ times is the only gunner selected for duty, nor will Udinese fans moan when Di Natale is snubbed for Pazzini....

The sooner u lot realize that Bafana Bafana represent each nd every south african the better. Naija fans were up in arms @ Keshi's squad selection for the Afcon, bt nt even once did we read derogatory comments against whoever they felt did not deserve 2 be there.

Nd these are the same people who have the audacity 2 question y our football isn't improving, yet they are happy just insulting nd criticizing.
Francois
posted: 03:50 pm
Nigeria is Superior to South Africa in Football at every level. Bafana Bafana should understand that by now.

It is possible for Bafana to win, but it is a very very slim possibility.
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