Nigeria lose a little sleep

On his way across the hotel lobby in Tianjin, the massive Victor Anichebe looks to be at a family reunion. Decked out in the instantly recognisable green of the Nigerian national team, the Everton man stops to chat with the USA's Brian McBride, formerly of Everton and Sunderland for a quick, friendly minute. Then he shares a familiar nod with Holland's lively winger Royston Drenthe, singing along to some hip-hop number on his iPod, and Liverpool's Ryan Babel.

"It's a little United Nations here," the striker, who is currently struggling with a slight knee niggle, told "It's totally cool to see all these guys you know from the Premier League like Brian (McBride) and all the Dutch guys like Makaay and Babel. We're all competing, but it's all very friendly too as we're sharing a home."

And what was it McBride relayed to his old Everton mate? "Oh, he just told me to look out for the Japanese when we play them in our next game. He says they know how to play with the ball on the ground."

Anichebe uncertain
Samson Siasia, Nigeria's coach and former Super Eagles legend, only used Anichebe for the last ten minutes of their opener against the Dutch, a 0-0 draw, and it is uncertain whether the big man will start the next game against Japan.

"It's just pain and I have to play through it," is the assessment of the Lagos-born, but Liverpool-raised youngster.

"We saw only a little of the USA-Japan game," he went on. "But we know that they're going to be tough. We know they're going to play good football, very technical. But we created a lot of chances against the Dutch and if we keep up that kind of playing, we should be fine."

Anichebe himself spurned a half-chance in his short stretch on the pitch, but the two most flagrant culprits were Italy-based Victor Obinna of Brescia and Lokomotiv Moscow striker Peter Odemwingie. In a 25-minute stretch of the first half, both strikers were guilty of spurning perhaps not gilt-edged chances, but certainly good ones.

"I didn't sleep at all the night of the game," admitted Odemwingie, who happened by the lobby. "I was just tossing and turning in my bed thinking about how I could have done this differently, or that differently. I was just talking to Victor (Obinna) about it and he was saying the same thing," the former Lille hit-man said.

A point gained
In all, a shared point with the European champions and one of the out-and-out favourites will not be troubling the Nigerians unduly. In fact, as the team coach pulled into the hotel car park after the match, swirling green figures could be seen singing and dancing inside.

"Really, how can you complain about a draw with this Dutch team, with Makaay, with Drenthe, with Babel?" Anichebe asked rhetorically. "A draw is a good start. Now we have a game under our belts and I'm pretty sure our shooting sights will be in line when we take on the Japanese."

Obinna and Odemwingie, currently in need of a good's night sleep, will certainly be hoping this is the case on 10 August in steamy Tianjin.