Nigeria bank on Odemwingie for goals
Nigeria hope Peter Odemwingie can transfer his scoring touch from the English Midlands to Rwanda as the CAF Africa Cup of Nations 2013 qualifiers begin tomorrow.
The West Bromwich Albion striker netted twice in the weekend demolition of Sunderland and got a hat-trick in his previous Premier League outing against Wolverhampton Wanderers.
Odemwingie was dumped by the Super Eagles last year after a bust-up with then coach Samson Siasia, who gave way to Stephen Keshi after failing to qualify for this year's African finals.
Keshi has ditched the long-time policy of Nigerian coaches to choose almost exclusively foreign-based players, including 11 locals for the first round, first leg clash at the 22,000-seat Stade de Kigali.
But the spine of the team will still be foreign with goalkeeper Vincent Enyeama, defenders Joseph Yobo and Taye Taiwo, midfielder Joel Obi and Odemwingie. There is also likely to be a first cap for Wigan Athletic midfielder Victor Moses, capped at various age-group levels by England after moving there in his early teens.
"Bear the heat because Rwanda is going to be even hotter on match day," Keshi warned his players after an early afternoon training session staged to replicate the conditions expected in central Africa.
Rwanda determined to avoid punches
Rwanda lack the pedigree of two-time African champions Nigeria, qualifying for the tournament only once, and are 18 places below the west Africans on the continental rankings.
"We do not want to be a punching bag like in the last qualifying competition when conceding five goals at home to Ivory Coast," stressed recently hired coach Milutin Sredojevic.