International Friendly Preview: United States v Nigeria
Two teams viewed as rank outsiders for the FIFA World Cup finish their preparations for the tournament when the United States face Nigeria.
Both the US and Nigeria harbour ambitions of upsetting the odds in Brazil, although it is the latter who perhaps have the easier task ahead of them.
Stephen Keshi’s men have been drawn in Group F and, while they will be underdogs against Argentina, the African outfit should be hopeful of earning positive results versus Bosnia-Herzegovina and Iran to progress to the last 16.
Achieving that feat would mark the first time that Nigeria have reached the knockout stages since 1998.
Nigeria head to Florida knowing that Jurgen Klinsmann’s side will be difficult to overcome in the clash at EverBank Field in Jacksonville.
Indeed, the United States have been in strong form in recent weeks, having beaten Azerbaijan and Turkey in their previous two warm-up games.
But for their good performances, the US will likely need to cause a shock in South America in order to avoid elimination in the group stages.
Klinsmann’s team received one of the tougher draws in the World Cup and will be pitted against Germany, Portugal and Ghana in Group G.
The former Germany coach named a somewhat youthful 23-man squad, with five players aged 23 or under named in the final group to travel to the finals.
The clash with Nigeria will serve as a last chance for players to stake a claim for places in the US starting XI for their opening clash against Ghana on June 16.
Meanwhile, Keshi is expecting an improvement from his side following a 0-0 draw with Greece on Tuesday.
“In friendlies you can correct your mistakes but in a tournament it can cost us dearly,” said Keshi.
“So we’ll see how it goes in the next game because that is another chance to improve on this performance.”
However, the visitors may have to cope without Uwa Elderson Echiejile, after the left-back suffered a hamstring injury in the encounter against Greece.