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23.01.2007 Football News

Nigeria name strong squad to face Ghana

Nigeria name strong squad to face Ghana
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Nigeria are plotting Ghana's downfall with a strong 20-man squad for their friendly in London on 6 February.

Coach Austin Eguavoen's team includes in-form English Premiership strikers Nwankwo Kanu of Portsmouth, Middlesbrough's Yabuku Aiyegbeni as well as Newscastle darling boy Obafemi Martins.

Greece-based defender Ifeanyi Udeze, who missed last year's Nations Cup in Egypt, returns to the squad while Dinamo Moscow midfielder Patrick Ovie, who has been on the fringes, is also in included for the game at Brentford's Griffin Park.

Chelsea's rising star Jon Mikel Obi as well as Wilson Oruma of Marseille and Lazio's Stephen Makinwa were also named in the team.

The Black Stars have not beaten Nigeria since 1992 when Abedi Pele's diving header helped his country to a 2-1 victory in the semi-final of the Nations Cup in Senegal.

Such is the determination of the Nigerians to extend their 14-year dominance of over Ghana that other top players like Italy-based youngster Obinna Nsofor, Watford trialist Chinedu Ogbuke and Rabiu Afolabi of French side Sochaux could not make the team.

The latest chapter in the rivalry produced a 1-0 victory for the Super Eagles in Group D of the African Nations Cup finals in Egypt last year.

But since then the Black Stars squad has been augmented and the team reached the second round of the World Cup and have not lost in four matches since the tournament in Germany in June.

Yet according to an aide to the Nigeria Football Association (NFA) chairman Sali Lulu, who spoke on condition of anonymity, the Super Eagles players are keen to defeat the Stars.

"I can tell you that Obafemi Martins is looking forward to playing the match just like Kanu and Aiyegbeni," he told the Daily Sun newspaper in Nigeria.

"They want to prove that all the hype about Ghana's football being on the high side is nothing but a ruse.

"Obafemi in particular, wants to score against the Black Stars just as Taiye Taiwo is also warming up to score again, as he did in the Nations Cup in Egypt last year, when his solitary goal separated the two sides.”

Ghana, hosts of the MTN African Cup of Nations in 2008, hope to use the match to prepare for the biennial event while the match will afford the Eagles the opportunity to test their might as Nigeria host Uganda in a top of the table clash in March.

Meanwhile, numerous fans of the Black Stars, who are confident of breaking the Nigerian jinx, are expected in London in their numbers thanks to an affordable offer put together by Ghana International Airlines.

The offer includes a return ticket, hotel accommodation and match tickets for only US$757.


Goalkeepers: Vincent Enyeama (Bnei Yehuda Tel Aviv, Israel), Austin Ejide (Bastia, France)

Defenders: Joseph Enakarhire (Bordeaux, France), Chidi Odiah (CSKA Moscow, Russia), Taye Taiwoo (Marseille, France), Joseph Yobo (Everton, England), Ifeanyi Udeze (AEK Athens, Greece), Obinna Nwaneri (Esperance, Tunisia)

Midfielders: Yusuf Ayila (Dinamo Kyiv, Ukraine), John Mikel Obi (Chelsea, England), Christian Obodo (Udinese, Italy), Wilson Oruma (Marseille, France) Peter Odemwingie (Lille, France), Patrick Ovie (Dinamo Moscow, Russia)

Strikers: Nwankwo Kanu (Portsmouth, England), Stephen Makinwa (Lazio, Italy), Obafemi Martins (Newcastle, England),Yakubu Aiyegbeni (Middlesbrough, England) John Utaka (Stade Rennes, France), Seyi George Olofinjana (Wolverhampton Wanderers, England)


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