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Preview: Nigeria v Uruguay

Confederations Cup

Teams: Nigeria v Uruguay

Date: 20 June 2013

Venue: Estadio Arena Fonte Nova, Salvador

Tonight’s Group B match between Uruguay and Nigeria is essentially an eliminator.

Group favourites Spain have already beaten Uruguay in their tournament opener, and will certainly end the night with six points, and a massive positive goal difference, after slaughtering minnows Tahiti.

That means Uruguay will have three points if they win tonight, and none and elimination if they lose.

Nigeria will have six points and progression to the next round if they win, after their opening victory over Tahiti.

But a draw or defeat for the Super Eagles would leave the group open, and Nigeria sweating ahead of their last match against Spain.

Nigeria are representing Africa, and the last time one of our continental brothers faced off against Uruguay in a knockout match, we all know what happened.

There is no love lost between West African rivals Nigeria and Ghana, but the Super Eagles could make Africa happy by meting out revenge to Uruguay, for the controversial way they eliminated the Black Stars from the quarter-finals of the World Cup in 2010.

The chief culprit of that horrible day for African football was striker Luis Suarez.

Already a menace at that time, the Liverpool star is now an even better player, arguably one of the best. And so Nigeria will have to watch slippery Suarez closely, during open play, when he makes his darting runs and when he has a dead ball at his feet.

But even though Uruguay are not in the most convincing form, Suarez is not the only player Nigeria must be wary of, with Diego Forlan- the player of the tournament in South Africa three years ago- in line for a return to the starting line-up.

“We know the Nigeria game is key and that the draw suits them better than it does us. If we draw the game, then it leaves things out of our hands on the final day. We need to prevent that from happening,” experienced campaigner Forlan told Fifa ahead of the game.

Nigeria meanwhile, are confident of securing a positive result against the South American champions.

Stephen Keshi’s men did what they needed to do in their group opener against Tahiti.

But the Super Eagles have a poor record against South American opposition historically, with just three wins and 10 defeats in 17 matches against them.

And so Keshi knows his team- which is likely to be set up far more defensively than the one that demolished Tahiti, in order to deal with the threat of Suarez, Forlan and Edinson Cavani- will have to play better than they have since winning Afcon 2013.

“Everyone’s come here to win and Uruguay are planning right now how to beat us. We need to improve and focus on the job in hand,” Keshi told Fifa. 

Can Nigeria avenge Ghana's World Cup nightmare to knock Uruguay out of the Confederations Cup?

Mikel Obi Nigeria

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