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23.01.2006 Football News

Nigeria v Ghana

By BBC

Nigeria will be without inspirational captain Jay-Jay Okocha (thigh) but John Mikel Obi is expected to play, with Kanu starting on the subs' bench. Julius Aghahowa is set to get the nod to start up front with Obafemi Martins.

Ghana have been decimated by injuries to Michael Essien, Sulley Muntari and Asamoah Gyan but Stephen Appiah plays despite only training for two days.

Sammy Kuffour will start in defence for the Ghanaians, his first appearance for them for two years.

Nigeria coach Austin Eguavoen:

"Ghana is a team that we respect and I believe they also respect us. "When Nigeria plays against Ghana it's always a big tie, it's the first game and the first game is always important for any team.

"I'm calm because I'm getting a positive response from the players. We have a very good group and we're here to win, not just to participate."

Ghana defender Sammy Kuffour:

"It's true that this is a big game and the fact that Jay-Jay Okocha won't be playing does not make Nigeria a weak side. "His absence gives us no advantage whatsoever and anything is possible."

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