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Nigeria plan in secret to end Greek odyssey

sports Updated: Jun 17, 2010 01:32 IST

Nigeria are keeping everyone guessing about their plans for the Group B match with Greece on Thursday, training in seclusion on the Indian Ocean coast since their defeat by Argentina.

Both sides desperately need points from the clash to keep alive their hopes of reaching the second round. The omens do not favour the Greeks.

Nigeria have largely kept their own counsel at their camp at Richards Bay north of Durban, where the British army planned its campaign against the Zulus as far back as in the 19th Century.

The Super Eagles could take some encouragement from Saturday's 1-0 defeat against an adventurous Argentina side under Maradona, in Johannesburg, a game lit up by Lionel Messi.

Nigeria goalkeeper Vincent Enyeama made a series of excellent saves, a stubborn defence helped keep the score down, and the attack caused the South Americans sporadic problems in the match.

Fortunately, fullback Taye Taiwo recovered quickly after being taken off injured and resumed training on Sunday.

Nigeria's Swedish coach Lars Lagerback will have to decide whether to stick with Chinedu Obasi on the right side of the attack, after he started promisingly but tired quickly and was replaced by the experienced Peter Odemwingie on the hour.

Although a perennial powerhouse in African soccer, Nigeria have struggled to blend seasoned veterans with the younger generation. Lagerback was appointed in February after Shaibu Amodu's sacking but has only worked with the players since May.

However, they can count on the support not only of the many Nigerians in South Africa but also across a continent dreaming of an African triumph in its first World Cup.

All four of Nigeria's WC wins have been against European opposition including a 2-0 win over Greece in 1994.

For the Greeks, coach Otto Rehhagel has warned his players they cannot afford another costly lapse in concentration. They have yet to score at a World Cup.