The African champions will be hoping to consolidate their position atop Group F by beating the East Africans in Calabar on Saturday
Okonkwo, Oboabona, Omeruo, Echiejile
Ogude, Mikel, Onazi
Moses, Martins, Ideye
Mandela, Owino, Ochieng', Mulinge
Mohammed, Wanyama, Gateri, Kahata
The past must be forgotten and the future sought with renewed vigour – that is the message that Coach Stephen Keshi will drum into the ears of his players as the 2014 Fifa World Cup qualifiers resume with the tie against the Harambee Stars delicately poised.
The Eagles have momentum from their surprise win in South Africa in January but the momentum must be channelled positively and that means the Kenyans must be put to the sword.
There will be no surprises in the Super Eagles as the core of the team that started the final at the Nations Cup should start again barring any last minute hitches and changes. Obafemi Martins should start as the main striker with Brown Ideye and Victor Moses as the supporting cast. Martins must try to make his runs behind the Kenyan defenders continuously until he is tired.
Leading the midfield will be Mikel Obi, supported by Ogenyi Onazi, whose bustle and energy will be needed against Victor Wanyama and this is where the coach must get it right – bringing in John Ogu to replace Sunday Mba. This move will mean that Onazi has the license to carry the ball into attack and for Mikel to move into more advanced areas. Ogu is a tough tackling midfielder who also can be a box-to-box midfielder like Onazi.
Or else, the Eagles can play Mikel in a deep playmaking position with Ogu and Onazi ahead of him.
In defence, Chibuzor Okonkwo should slot in at right back to replace Efe Ambrose. The Rangers man will bring added goal threat from his wide position as he joins the attack. He is also very adept at free kicks. And the quiet mien of Enyeama will complete that back line.
The Kenyans will play five in midfield to combat the spaces that can be created by the Eagles which means Dennis Oliech will be the lone front man. The Ajaccio striker is big and strong and also full of running so expect Omeruo to be his shadow for the game.
There cannot be another setup except playing on the counter for the Harambee Stars as they cannot go toe to toe with the African champions. They will hope to keep the score barren over the first 20 minutes to cause disquiet in the stands.
Kenya is ranked 127th in the world against Nigeria’s 30th placement. The last time both teams met was in the 2010 World Cup qualifier in Nairobi. The match ended 3-2 in favour of the Nigerians after Kenya had led at the break 1-0 through an Oliech goal.
In eight official matches, Nigeria has won seven with one drawn and the favourite scoreline has been 3-0 and we can’t look further than having a similar score on Saturday.
But if the Eagles manage to score within the first ten minutes, the Kenyans will have to abandon their game plan of counter attacking and try for a goal which could make for a roasting.
|DID YOU KNOW?|
Dennis Oliech's (pictured right) first international match was against the Super Eagles in 2002 and they lost 3–0
Nigeria is unbeaten in 13 internationals against Kenya, winning 11 and drawing 2
Obafemi Martins has scored 18 goals for the Super Eagles in 38 appearances
Nnamdi Oduamadi, John Ogu and Babatunde Michael will be hoping to win their first caps on Saturday
The Eagles have scored 153 goals in qualifiers for the Fifa World Cup
The match referee will be Joshua Bondo from Botswana
Nigeria is ranked 30th in the world by Fifa while Kenya is ranked in 127th place.