NIGERIA VS ENGLAND IN WEMBLEY AFTER 24 YEARS
With all the talk of our Jersey selling out, all the Nike this Nike that its great to be looking forward to some actual Football action. Its Nigeria vs England and its not one that comes up too often ,so now its here you can understand why its capturing the imaginations of all football fans here in Nigeria and in London.
The two footballing Nations last met in Japan/Korea Worldcup 2002, 16 years Ago. That encounter ended Goaless and enjoys little in terms of reference points when encounters between both Nations are spoken of. However the game that stands out historically is the International Friendly that held 24 years ago in 1994. Then Nigeria at the peak of its powers fresh from a commendable world cup outing where they were the toast of the world visited Wembley to take on ENGLAND. The Big names for the Super Eagles where in action Rasheed Yekini (late), Finidi George, Daniel Amokachi, Jay Jay Okocha, and others. However the Game though evenly contested went the way of ENGLAND via a David Platt Header.
Fast Forward 24 years its the same Fixture, same Venue, but different players. Both Teams have experienced Contrasting Fortunes, Nigeria has not managed to sustain the high pedestal it enjoyed after that Worldcup but has fallen far out of the Top 10 ranked Nations in world football. While England on the other hand though still in the top10, has Largely underachieved having not won any titles at senior Level.
Both sides will be familiar with each other as a few of the Super Eagles ply their trade in the Premier League where majority of the Three Lions play. Super Eagles Manager Gernot Rohr has only just trimmed his side to 25 after a Lack Lustre 1-1 draw with DRCongo. He will be looking to reduce the number to 23 the final number to be submitted to the worldcup after today’s game so you can expect New comers like attacker Simi Nwankwo will be eager to make an impression late in the day.
Super Eagles captain Mikel Obi will return to Nigeria’s starting line-up for Today’s game and in the Pre-match press confrence, he said the Boys have observed that England play 5 at the back and don’t give away many chances. They barely concede and so the Eagles can expect a stern test of their Offensive capabilities.
After Missing the 1-1 draw in Portharcourt, Victor Moses will be returning to the starting line-up for the game against England alongside Odion Ighalo and Bryan Idowu but Defensive midfeilder Wilfred Ndidi, who is recovering from a hamstring injury, will sit out the encounter.
The pair of Joel Obi and Ogenyi Onazi will keep their places in central midfield just as Leon Balogun and William Troost Ekong (Oyinbo wall) also retain their places in the heart of the Super Eagles defence.
Shehu Abdulahi will be the starting right-back,while Francis Uzoho, who has started the last three matches, is expected to keep his place in goal. Alex Iwobi will also start the encounter from the flanks. The Arsenal forward will make his 17thappearance for Nigeria in Familiar Surroundings.
The game will be played at the Wembley Stadium in England and the Kick-off time is 5:15pm.
Nigeria Possible Starting XI against England (4-2-3-1): Uzoho; Abdullahi Shehu, Troost-Ekong, Balogun, Idowu; Onazi, Obi; Victor Moses, Obi Mikel, Alex Iwobi; Ighalo.
Now i know its a Warm up game with nothing but Bragging rights at stake, But i want to see the Super Eagles play without fear and settle down quickly. There is always one thing we will have as an edge over England and that is Individual skill. You can’t defend against that..Its spontaneous and unpredictable..We may not be as organized like them but that is where i want Rohr to come in set the team up compactly and be expansive also. Raheem Sterling and Jamie Vardy are 2 dangerous forwards the Super Eagles must be watchful of. Harry Kane also is a Dangerman but he thrives on Supplies from Dele Alli and others. Amokachi, Okocha and co Failed to beat England 24 years ago, can Mikel, Musa and Moses manage to do better?
It promises to be a cracker …