FIFA Confed Cup: Eagles Battle Uruguay
Dynamo Kiev striker, Brown Ideye may start for Nigeria against Uruguay after his team-mates struggled to convert chances against Tahiti.
While Nigeria thumped the French Polynesians 6-1 in the FIFA Confederations Cup on Monday, Head Coach, Stephen Keshi looked less than impressed after watching his side waste a number of goal-scoring opportunities in Belo Horizonte.
Of the three forwards Keshi selected against Tahiti, only Nnamdi Oduamadi hit the back of the net, with the 22-year-old AC Milan winger, who spent last season on loan at Serie B club Varese, striking a hat-trick.
Keshi’s other two forwards, Anthony Ujah of Mainz, who was loaned out to Cologne last season, and CSKA Moscow’s Ahmed Musa failed to score against the Tahitian amateurs.
Ideye, who scored 17 goals in 28 matches for Dynamo in the past season, was a shock omission from Nigeria’s opening match of the Confederations Cup and with the likes of Chelsea’s Victor Moses and Ikechukwu Uche of Villarreal not in Brazil the Ukrainian-based striker is arguably the highest-profile forward available to Keshi.
Oduamadi scored twice in 16 games for Varese last season, while Ujah (13 in 28) and Musa (11 in 28) fared better in front of goal for their clubs.
Nigeria will wrap up a spot in the Confederations Cup semi-finals with a victory over Uruguay, who lost 2-1 to Spain on Sunday.
Spain had 71 percent possession against Uruguay and took 16 shots to six in Recife but Uruguayan head coach Oscar Tabarez would have reminded his team that they still went close to taking a point off the world champions.
Luis Suarez’s stunning free-kick in the 88th minute dragged Uruguay within a goal of Spain, although an equaliser would have been undeserved.
Tabarez will need to get more out of Napoli striker Edinson Cavani against Nigeria, after the 26-year-old was rarely sighted versus Spain.
If Cavani and Suarez can click, they will most likely give Nigeria’s back four plenty of grief in Bahia.
Nigeria have only kept one clean sheet in their past five games, despite not having lost since May last year when Peru overcame the Africans 1-0 in Lima.
Meanwhile, Keshi has pleaded with his players to be more ruthless in front of goal after a string of missed chances.
Despite the heavy margin of victory the Eagles wasted a number of opportunities when one-on-one with the South Pacific Islanders’ goalkeeper, Xavier Simin.
The victory leaves the African champions top of Group B, however, and Keshi insists that he is pleased with the team’s performance ahead of their game with Uruguay.
“We had some chances, they needed to bury the goals,” he told reporters after the match. “When you play a game like this you tend to give the opposition team the confidence to come back.
“They scored their goal and reacted a little bit. I’m happy with how we did and we’ll see how we get on against Uruguay.”
Support in Belo Horizonte was largely in favour of their Oceanic opposition and Nigerian goals were not celebrated with much fervour, but Keshi dismissed this as having an effect on his players at the Mineirao.
“Most of the supporters are Tahitians or came out to boost their morale which is normal,” he added. “As a professional player you don’t need to worry about that.”
Following their clash with Uruguay on Thursday, Nigeria will face a final group game against Spain on Sunday.