Nigeria, France go for broke

Blueprint Whatsapp

—  Eagles tipped for victory

By Gbenga Jolaosho

Nigeria and France will be mobilising the entire arsenal at their disposal to outshine each other as both sides clash today in the round of 16 of the ongoing World Cup Finals in Brazil.
The encounter which will hold in the city of Brasilia promises to be explosive, energy sapping, full of tactical display and stretch the two teams to their elastic limit as one of them will surely exit the stage at the end of 90 minutes.
Nigeria qualified for the second round of the completion from Group F with a total of 4 points, having played 1-1 draw with Iran, beat Bosnia-Herzegovina 1-0 and lose 1-2 to Argentina. France on the other hand finished top in Group E with 7 points to advance to make it to the round of 16.

Super Eagles have never made it beyond the second round since their debut at the completion, USA ’94. Their appearances at the football fiesta in France ’98, Japan-Korea 2002 and South Africa 2010 were soppy and calamitous as they crashed out from the group stage on the three occasions, and as such the head coach Stephen Keshi-led squad will need to lift their game this time out if they are to break the jinx and make it to the quarter-final for the first time.

For Nigeria to walk past the French side at this stage will obviously be an onerous task for the Keshi’s men as the Les Bleus won’t want to short circuit their ambition of winning the coveted trophy for the second time after lifting it in 1998. And other factors that will be the driving force for France to go all out against Eagles in this match will be to retaliate the 0-1 defeated handed them in 2009 by Nigeria in a friendly game and also to make up for their poor showing at the South Africa 2010 where they were booted out at the group stage.
Soccer pundits have, indeed, dubbed the clash a battle of tactical approach between the two teams, arguing that the side that carry the day will be more dependent on how the two coaches bring to bear their tactical dexterity and acumen into display than what the players do on the pitch.

For Eagles’ head coach Keshi, he would be banking on the impressive form of Ahmed Musa, Osaze Odewingie, and  Emmanuel Emenike  to run down their opponents, with the hope that goalkeeper Vincent Enyeama maintains his good performance and keep the goalpost safe. But the French handler, Didier Deschamps, on the other hand would be looking up to the striking force of Karim Benzima and Oliver Giroud to tilt the pendulum to his side.
However, despite the fact that past records in the tournament and current FIFA’s rating favour the French side to emerge victorious in today’s encounter, Nigerian football analysts believe that the unpredictable Eagles can upset their foes and progress to the quarter-final.
Ex-international, Dosu Joseph, told Blueprint Sport that Nigeria have what it takes to win the encounter, saying all the Eagles need to do is to be confident and play as a team.
“I strongly believe that we will win if our players don’t pay too much respect to France, because what they have in Benzima or Giroud Nigeria also have it in the likes of Ahmed Musa, Osaze, victor Moses and even Emenike.
“All our boys just need do is to play as a team and avoid selfish game. Once this is done, I am sure Nigeria will make it to the quarter final,” dreamed the former Nigeria Dream Team goalkeeper and Atlanta ’96 Olympic gold medallist.
Deriving his confidence from how Eagles have continued to improve from each game they have played so far, a member of NFF media Committee, Paul Bassey, also believed that the Les Bleus were beatable.
He said: “At this stage now, I expect head coach Keshi to bring in Victor Moses so as to make our striking force more potent. I believe the combination Moses, Osaze and Ahmed Musa should be able to trouble the French defence, and then give us the glory.”

The winners between France and Nigeria will face either Germany or Algeria in the quarterfinals at the Estadio do Maracana in Rio de Janeiro on July 4.

Related content you may like