Nigeria face tough task in World Cup tie against Kenya

first_imgAfrican champions Nigeria will have to overcome fatigue and the absence of key attackers when they face Kenya in Wednesday’s World Cup qualifier.The Super Eagles are under pressure to win in Nairobi as they lead Group F only on goals scored from Malawi, who could capitalise on any slip by winning their game against Namibia.But Nigeria’s preparations have been far from ideal, as they will have clocked about 22,000 air miles by the time they land in Kenya just 24 hours before they face the Harambee Stars.After a 2-2 friendly draw with with Mexico last Friday in the United States, Nigeria returned to a training camp before flying to Nairobi via Ethiopian capital Addis Ababa.In addition to the effects of travel weariness, Nigeria will be without key strikers Emmanuel Emenike, Kalu Uche and Victor Moses.With goals hard to come by in the group – only seven have been scored in six matches – Nigeria’s task has been made even more difficult by the trio’s absence. “The travelling will definitely have an effect,” said Nigeria coach Stephen Keshi. We may not have time for a proper practice session in Kenya.“We need every training session that can be arranged because we must a correct a few problems that cropped up during the match against Mexico.“The game against Kenya will resemble a cup final. It is never easy to win away in Africa and we have to prove worthy champions.”Keshi said midfielders John Ogu and Ogenyi Onazi and striker Ideye Brown took knocks against Mexico, but he expected the Europe-based trio to be available.Also joining up with the squad are midfielder John Mikel Obi and striker Ahmed Musa, who helped CSKA Moscow win the Russian Double at the weekend. Kenya may have struggled at home against Nigeria in the past – they have never beaten them in their own capital – but there was no inferiority complex from Oman-based Jamal Mohammed after a training session.“If we defeat Nigeria no one can stop us and the team can start thinking realistically about the World Cup in Brazil next year,’ the midfielder told reporters.However, Mohammed admitted the absence of goalkeeper Arnold Origi and striker and skipper Dennis Oliech through suspensions was a double blow to the hosts, who will also be without midfielder McDonald Mariga.Meanwhile, Malawi coach Edington Ng’onamo has admitted he would rather be playing on Saturday, when the game was originally scheduled for before the Group F matches were switched because of Nigeria’s participation in the Confederations Cup in Brazil.“I am not happy that the games have been moved because it mean most of the supporters will not come to support the national team,” Ng’onamo told BBC Sport. But he issued a rallying cry to his side to get maximum points and turn the screw on Nigeria.“We will play attacking football against Nambia from the first whistle to the last whistle. The boys will be flat out and they are going to sweat blood,” he added.“I don’t know what will happen with Nigeria. in their matches but our aim is to beat Namibia, and then Kenya next week, to move on to 11 points.”Ng’onamo has recalled midfielder Dave Banda and equally experienced striker Chiukepo Msowoya for the match, which will be played on the artificial pitch at Kamuzu Stadium in Blantyre.“The aim is to win the game on Wednesday because we have home advantage and we must make use of it,” he said. “My players are more used to this pitch than any other while rivals tend to struggle because of the surface.” Namibia will be without several of their South Africa-based players, including strikers Rudolf Bester of Orlando Pirates and Henrico Botes from league runners-up Platinum Stars.last_img

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