Tahiti vs. Nigeria: Confederations Cup Preview, Team News and Prediction

Christopher Atkins@@chris_elasticoContributor IJune 17, 2013

JOHANNESBURG, SOUTH AFRICA - FEBRUARY 10:  John Obi Mikel celebrates holding the trophy during the 2013 Orange African Cup of Nations Final match between Nigeria and Burkina Faso from the National Stadium on February 10, 2013 in Johannesburg, South Africa. (Photo by Lefty Shivambu / Gallo Images/Getty Images)
Gallo Images/Getty Images

Tahiti vs. Nigeria

Kickoff: Monday June 17 at 9 p.m. (UK)/4 p.m. (ET)

It is a game that will surely be the beginning of a tough three fixtures for Tahiti, with results in the buildup to the tournament suggesting that it is going to be a long three matches for the French Polynesians.

Africa Cup of Nations winners Nigeria will be their opponents in the final game of Matchday 1 at the Confederations Cup 2013, with the two sides aiming to begin their Group B campaigns in style.

Nigeria, despite a hectic buildup to the competition in which their players reportedly went on strike in a row over bonus payments, will be expected to win, and win by some considerable margin.

In a group where rivals Spain and Uruguay are anticipated to be the strongest of the four sides, wracking up an impressive goal difference tally could prove important for the Super Eagles' qualification hopes.

Tahiti's pre-match press conference offered a clear indication of the challenges that lie ahead, with manager Eddy Etaeta discussing the fact that nine of his squad are currently unemployed.

The rest, he offered, were a mix of PE teachers, delivery men, accountants, or working in an assortment of other trades. Of their squad, only uncapped former France Under-21 striker Marama Vahirua plays football professionally. (AFP)

Just a goal at the tournament would mean a huge amount to the Tahitian side, who lost 7-0 to Chile's Under-20 squad just last week. It is likely, though, to come down to a matter of damage limitation over the next 10 days.


Recent Form:

TAHITI—Two wins, three losses (W-L-L-W-L)

NIGERIA—Two wins, three draws (W-D-D-W-D)


Key Players:

TAHITI—Marama Vahirua: There was really only one player that could be chosen as Tahiti's key player for the match, and that is star striker Vahirua.

Owned by Ligue 1 side Nancy, the forward spent the last season on loan in Greece, although a return of just three goals was a fairly poor one for the 33-year-old striker.

For his nation, though, he will be looked to as the man to inspire the side this summer. However, it will be Vahirua's first foray at the international level, having recently switched nationality last year.

NIGERIA—John Obi Mikel: Chelsea midfielder Mikel has often attracted criticism for his displays at club level, but is an integral member of Stephen Keshi's Nigeria Africa Cup of Nations winning side.

The midfielder has come of age as part of the new generation of Super Eagles, stepping up to control the centre of the pitch and make good on his early promise.

Nigeria will be expected to comfortably beat Tahiti on Monday evening and Mikel will have one of the easier games in his career. However, he will be expected to ensure that the team does not get complacent, with goal difference potentially important in the competition.


Team News:

TAHITI—Roche; Simon, Ludivion, Caroine, Faatiarau, Vero; Bourebare, Tehau, Chong-Hue, Vahirua; Tehau.

NIGERIA—Enyeama; Ambrose, Omeruo, Oboabona, Echiejile; Mba, Mikel, Ogude; Musa, Ideye, Oduamadi.


How To Watch:

Live on BBC3 in the United Kingdom and ESPN in the United States.


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