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Football | Nigeria

Eagles begin Afcon quest at Rwanda

Nigeria's Super Eagles will begin their campaign for a place at the 2013 Africa Cup of Nations qualifying at Rwanda this Wednesday.

It is the first leg of a two-leg clash between the Nigerians and Rwandans billed for the artificial turf of the Stade Regional de Nyamirambo in Kigali.

The last time both teams met in this same game in Kigali but during a Fifa World Cup qualification in June 2005 it ended 1-1.

Nigeria had won the reverse game two-nil in June of 2004.

Under Milutin Sredojevic, the Amavubi of Rwanda have not lost in five games since November 2011 while the Super Eagles have not lost in their last four games since October 2011.

This is Stephen Keshi's first competitive game in charge since he took charge of the Nigerian team on November 2, 2011.

Since Keshi assumed the position of head coach, the Super Eagles have been unbeaten in three games against Botswana, Zambia and Liberia.

One man the Nigerians must watch out for in this tie is APR FC striker, Oliver Karekezi.

At the Benjamin Mkapa National Stadium in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania on December 2, Karekezi netted a treble against Djibouti in the 2011 Cecafa Cup to help Sredojevic's men win 5-2.

He followed up his hat-trick display with another goal six days later in same competition and same venue, as Rwanda beat Sudan 2-1.

As for the Nigerians, they will parade a team mixed with foreign-based stars and domestic league players.

Keshi looks set to hand two defensive roles to the local-based stars and it is looking likely that one of Papa Idris, Godfrey Oboabona and Azubuike Egwuekwe will take the two places.

It is however up front that the Super Eagles have the most talents in Yakubu Aiyegbeni and Peter Osaze Odemwingie, who jointly scored a total of 22 goals in the English top flight this term.

The West Africans go into this game as favourites as they are ranked number eight in Africa by Fifa while the Rwandans are 26th.


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