EAGLES CAN SPRING SURPRISE IN S'AFRICA â€“ NIEKETIEN
A former junior international, Peter Nieketien, believes the Super Eagles can spring surprise at the South Africa 2010 World Cup despite being drawn in a tight group against favourites Argentina, Greece and South Korea.
The Chile '87 Flying Eagles striker said the Eagles might become the surprise team of Group B at the Mundial, despite questions over the team's preparations for the competition.
'Football is a funny game and you will be surprised that Nigeria may end up progressing from the group ahead of the other teams.
'Of course, our preparations have started late, which is a usual thing but if the new coach (Lars Lagerback) can blend the old and new players, they may be able to stun the other teams in the group,' the former Iwuanyanwu Nationale player said.
Nieketien, who was part of the silver-winning Green Eagles at the Maroc '88 African Nations Cup, said though Argentina had been highly favoured to win the World Cup due to their array of stars like World Footballer of the Year Lionel Messi, Carlos Tevez, Gonzalo Higuain, Sergio Aguero and Javier Mascherano, they could be beaten by Nigeria.
He said, 'I think even our opponents are afraid of our strengths and talent because African players are very strong. If we can get very strong and intelligent players on the field, I we have a team which can beat anybody.'
He said Nigeria should begin a gradual process of grooming new talents to take over from the current players to avert a reocurrence of the problem where the current players have not be able to adequately replace their predecessors.
Nieketien added, 'We need to go back to grassroots football to scout for talents. We also need to start youth development programmes to discover talents.
'We need a lot of sponsors to drive the domestic league. When we played the stadia were always filled and the fans went home happy after every match.'