2010 FIFA World Cup South Africa™

2010 FIFA World Cup South Africa™

11 June - 11 July

2010 FIFA World Cup™

Pressure on Greece and Nigeria

Otto Rehhagel head coach of Greece (C) speaks to Christos Patsatzoglou of Greece on the touchline
© Getty Images

Just a single game into the tournament, the pressure is on both Greece and Nigeria, as both lost their opening Group B fixtures. Korea Republic deservedly downed the Greeks 2-0, and although Nigeria gave a creditable account of themselves against Argentina, they ultimately had in-form keeper Vincent Enyeama to thank for limiting the damage to a 1-0 reverse.

The matchGreece–Nigeria, Group B, Mangaung/Bloemfontein, Thursday 17 June, 16.00 (local time)

Both sides really require a victory to keep alive their hopes of reaching the last 16. The need is arguably greater for the Greeks, as they face the daunting prospect of going head-to-head with La Albiceleste in their third group game. In the circumstances, the sides can be expected to jettison at least some of the caution which has generally characterised the first round of matches in South Africa. Certainly, the Nigeria camp has made no secret of its intention to pursue all three points with vigour.

The nations have met twice in the past, each coming away with a 2-0 victory. The Super Eagles came up trumps in a 1994 FIFA World Cup™ meeting in Foxboro in the USA, but the Greeks took at least partial revenge in a friendly five years later. The loser of the clash in South Africa can almost certainly pack for home.

The Nigeria camp reacted calmly to defeat in their opening match. Lars Lagerback and his men had obviously at least allowed for the possibility of losing to two-time world champions Argentina. The mood among the Greeks was considerably more agitated, although there was also a ray of hope with the likely return of key defender Evangelos Moras for the Nigeria clash.

Player to watch*Vincent Enyeama (NGA) *

If the sides play to the form shown in their opening matches, the Greeks appear to stand little chance of breaking their scoring duck at the FIFA World Cup finals, as Enyeama turned in a world-class display against Argentina. The 27-year-old proved a particular thorn in the side of superstar Lionel Messi, thwarting the Barcelona striker time and again. If the shot-stopper comes anywhere near that level of performance, it will take the combined efforts of the entire Greece side to overcome him.

The stat
0 - Greece are contesting their second FIFA World Cup finals and have played four matches in total, but they have yet to score. Their debut appearance in 1994 in the USA started with a 4-0 defeat to Argentina, followed by the same result against Bulgaria, and a 2-0 defeat to Nigeria. The sorry pattern continued into their opening match in 2010, with a 2-0 reverse against a much livelier Korea Republic side. In a curious coincidence, Greece now face two of the same opponents from 1994, the Argentinians and the Nigerians.

What they said"I’m happy enough with our approach against one of the best teams in the world. We had our fair share of luck and it ended up a good evening for us. I think we showed we have potential and proved we could go a long way. We’ve lost a match at the World Cup, but I’m hearing that the folk back home are happy. We didn’t play as well in attack as we’d hoped, but it’s good that we only conceded the one goal. It's going to be easier against the other teams," Peter Odemwingie, Nigeria forward.

"Nigeria are a good team. We’ll analyse every aspect of our game and do the same with Nigeria, and we’ll see what’s needed to win. We’re not giving up. We all know you frequently suffer poor results in football. We’re not disappointed, because we’re taking a realistic view of our potential and what we can hope to achieve. The job now is to prepare well, play better against Nigeria, and register our first win," Alexandros Tzorvas, Greece keeper.

Voice of the fans
"If Greece set out to win it 1-0, they can forget it. Enyeama, the best keeper at the tournament so far, will turn out to be a wall they can’t break down. They’ll need to be at their very best or they’ll be going home, because this keeper will frustrate them, and fresh Nigerian legs will do the rest. It’ll be 2-0 to Nigeria. But both teams need a very good, morale-boosting performance, or they’ll be going home,” NoDreamer, FIFA.com user

The questionAre Greece yet again destined to finish the FIFA World Cup finals without a goal? What do the 2004 European champions have to do to end this sequence?

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