Big Match Feature: Nigeria v USA
Nigeria will round off their preparations for the Fifa World Cup, starting next Thursday in Brazil, by playing a friendly match against the United States national team at the Everbank Field, Jacksonville on Saturday.
The Super Eagles have played consecutive draws against Scotland and Greece and will look to hit Brazil with a confidence-boosting win over the Americans who have fared a bit better in their preparations by beating Turkey 2-1 and Azerbaijan 2-0 as coach Juergen Klinsmann puts his squad into shape.
Stephen Keshi, unimpressed with his side's showing against the Greeks has asked his wards to improve their performance levels and this will be a great opportunity for the players to show they are ready to do battle in Brazil when they kick start their World Cup campaign against Iran on 12 June.
Nigeria and the United States have met only once at full international level so Saturday's friendly will make it the second encounter between the two countries.
The United States beat Nigeria 3-2 on 11 June, 1995 in Foxborough, Massachusets in the US Invitational Cup involving Mexico and Colombia, with goals from John Harkes, Marcelo Balboa and Cobi Jones. Nigeria scored through Jay Jay Okocha and Wasiu Ipaye.
Match day squads:
United States: Brad Friedel, Brian Bliss (Alexi Lalas 46′), Mike Burns, Thomas Dooley, Mike Sorber, Marcelo Balboa, Paul Caligiuri, Frank Klopas, John Harkes, Roy Wegerle (Cobi Jones 46′), Ernie Stewart (Jovan Kirovski 71′)
Nigeria: Peter Rufai, Benedict Iroha, Bawa Abdullahi, Chidi Nwanu, Godwin Okpara, Austin Okocha, John Zaki (Chukwu Ndukwe 55′), Ajibade Babalade (Uchenna Okafor 66′), Edema Fuludu (Taiwo Enegwa 55′), Samson Siasia, Taiwo Wasiu
Nigeria go into the game looking to break a four-game winless streak against the United States after successive draws against Mexico, Italy, Scotland and Greece, while the Americans will hope to continue their good form of late with another win over Nigeria.
Nigeria last four matches: D D D D
United States: W W D L
Nigeria might lose the services of left back Elderson Echiejile who injured his hamstring in the friendly against Greece. Juwon Oshaniwa, who wasn't dressed for the Greece game, has started training but is not sure for this Saturday's friendly game.
Juergen Klinsmann might decide to shake things up in the attack after the Turkey friendly and fringe players like Chris Wondolowski might just get a look in as Jozy Altidore and Clint Dempsey haven't actually been at their best lately.
KEY PLAYERS: Nigeria:
The combative midfielder has arguably been Nigeria's most improved player in the last twelve months as his work rate and intrepid play have endeared him to coach Stephen Keshi and Nigerians alike.
Built like a tank, the Lazio, Italy star breaks up opponents' play effectively and has also added goal-scoring to his armoury, aside from his defensive responsibilities. He will be a key player for Nigeria in Brazil and will hope to use the friendly to further cement his soaring reputation.
The former Sunshine of Akure defender has been solely responsible for team captain Joseph Yobo starting from the bench in the last year and a half as his reputation has continued to soar after a topsy turvy start to his international career.
His move abroad to Caykur Rizespor in the Turkish Super Lig has polished some of the rough edges in his game and he, alongside Chelsea's Kenneth Omerou are the undisputed first choice central defensive partnership for the Super Eagles.
The former Fulham midfielder has been handed the captain's armband by coach Juergen Klinsmann after the much-documented fall out with former skipper and American icon Landon Donovan.
Dempsey, a rap loving eccentric individual who stunned a lot of people by moving back to Major League Soccer from the Barclays Premier League, is a roving midfielder who loves to drive forward and score goals.
His experience will be immense for a youthful and relatively inexperienced team assembled by Klinsmann for the 2014 Fifa World Cup, as he leads the troops against Nigeria.
The burly Sunderland striker will be the main man in the attack for the US men's national team again at the World Cup. He didn't have the greatest of games against Turkey in the last friendly, but Klinsmann will put his faith in the former Villareal striker.
Much maligned by the press back home, he will look to impress fans and the media if he gets the chance to play against Nigeria in Jacksonville that might boost his confidence ahead of the World Cup.
GOALKEEPERS: Vincent Enyeama, Austin Ejide, Chigozie Agbim
DEFENDERS: Joseph Yobo, Elderson Echiejile, Juwon Oshaniwa, Godfrey Oboabona, Azubuike Egwuekwe, Kenneth Omeruo, Efe Ambrose, Kunle Odunlami
MIDFIELDERS: John Obi Mikel, Ogenyi Onazi, Ramon Azeez, Michael Uchebo, Reuben Gabriel
FORWARDS: Peter Odemwingie, Ahmed Musa, Shola Ameobi, Emmanuel Emenike, Babatunde Michael, Victor Moses, Uche Nwofor
GOALKEEPERS : Brad Guzan, Tim Howard , Nick Rimando
DEFENDERS: DaMarcus Beasley, Matt Besler , John Brooks, Geoff Cameron , Timmy Chandler, Omar Gonzalez, Fabian Johnson, DeAndre Yedlin
MIDFIELDERS: Kyle Beckerman, Alejandro Bedoya, Michael Bradley, Brad Davis, Mix Diskerud, Julian Green, Jermaine Jones, Graham Zusi
FORWARDS: Jozy Altidore, Clint Dempsey, Aron Johannsson, Chris Wondolowski