Sports

Keshi looks for home comforts

NIGERIA

After failing to reach the second round in their past two World Cup appearances, Nigeria are looking to prove how far they have come in four years.

The Super Eagles picked up just one point from their three games in 2010 and finished bottom of their group, but a lot has changed since then.

Under the stewardship of Stephen Keshi, who was Nigeria’s captain at their first World Cup tournament in 1994, the Super Eagles won the African Nations Cup last year.

Since taking the helm at the end of 2011, Keshi has broken the mould by picking lesser-known, homebased players ahead of those who play in Europe and this strategy has given a huge boost to the national team.

The likes of Godfrey Oboabona who was playing his club football in the Nigeria Premier League when they triumphed in last year’s African Nations Cup, excelled at the tournament and did not look out of place alongside household names such as Chelsea duo John Obi Mikel (above) and Victor Moses.

After becoming African champions and going unbeaten in the qualifying campaign, Nigeria’s confidence is sky high ahead of the tournament.

Although the squad contains a large number of young players, the Super Eagles do have some experienced heads in their ranks. Lille shot-stopper Vincent Enyeama is used to major tournaments, having played in goal for his country in South Korea and Japan in 2002 and in South Africa four years ago, while Mikel has played in plenty of big games for Chelsea.