Today in the Brazilian city of Belo Horizonte, African champions, the Super Eagles will begin their Confederations Cup chase with a Group B match against Tahiti, who are the champions of Oceania.
Sixty three years ago, the Brazilian city was the location for one of the biggest upsets in footballing history, USA’s win over England during the 1950 FIFA World Cup. Should Tahiti emulate that result, shock-waves will be felt across world football.
Tahiti have been in Brazil since 7 June, while Nigeria touched down eight days later, laving many to think that the extra preparation time benefit the islanders?
The Super Eagles will be looking to take an early lead at the top of Group B by giving their goal difference a significant boost against a team who are 107 places below them in the FIFA/Coca-Cola World Ranking. With Uruguay and Spain lying in wait, Stephen Keshi’s side will be looking to put their part-time opponents to the sword. Tahiti meanwhile are daring to dream.
This is the pair’s first meeting at international level, although they did square up at the FIFA U-20 World Cup 2009 in Egypt. Nigeria prevailed 5-0 on that occasion, a first-round match held in Cairo when Obiora Nwankwo, Ibok Edet, Kehinde Fatai, Nurudeen Orelesi and Daniel Adejo were on target.
Nigeria are one of two undefeated sides in the FIFA Confederations Cup, the other being Denmark. The Super Eagles went unbeaten in their previous participation in 1995, earning one win, two draws and losing only on penalties to Mexico in the match for third place.
Eagles defender, Efe Ambrose said that the Eagles are ready for the Tahiti tie
“It is a match we know we need to win and, to do that, we need to be fully concentrated. We cannot afford to take any chances. Big shocks have happened before in these kind of tournaments and we don’t want to be the victims this time,” said the Celtics defender.
On his part, Tahiti striker, Steevy Chong Hue said that they were not going to be awed by their more illustrious foes.
“For an amateur player it is a dream to face the best players in the world. However for it not to become a nightmare we have to keep working really hard so we are ready for the first game,” he said.