Greece can breathe a sigh of relief ahead of the
Nigeria friendly, with Sokratis Papastathopoulos
thought to have escaped serious injury.
The Borussia Dortmund centre-back pulled up
shortly before half-time in Greece’s uninspiring 0-0 draw with Portugal in Oeiras on Saturday with what appeared to be a hamstring problem.
Initially there were fears that Papastathopoulos’
participation in the upcoming FIFA World Cup could
be in doubt, but reports in the Greek media suggest that the damage is not as bad as first feared.
While Tuesday’s fixture against Nigeria in Pennsylvania is likely to come too soon, coach Fernando Santos could welcome Papastathopoulos back into the squad for the final warm-up game versus Bolivia at the Red Bull Arena on Friday. Santos’ attention may turn to the other end of the pitch, where Greece showed a notable lack of goal threat against Paulo Bento’s men. Kostas Mitroglou started in that fixture alongside Georgios Samaras, the former getting the nod despite struggling since moving to Fulham in January.
But, with neither forward making a strong case, Santos may give opportunities to the likes of PAOK’s Dimitris Salpingidis and the experienced Theofanis Gekas of Konyaspor, the duo no doubt keen for action before their World Cup opener with Colombia on June 14.
For Nigeria, the match may represent an opportunity to give the more tried and tested players an outing after a team consisting largely of World Cup hopefuls could only muster a 2-2 draw with Scotland last Wednesday.
Coach Stephen Keshi left the likes of goalkeeper Vincent Enyeama and midfielder John Obi Mikel out of squad, as Uche Nwofor’s 90th-minute goal rescued a draw at Craven Cottage. Peter Odemwingie came off the bench in that game, and the Stoke City forward is desperate for success with the national team after missing out on the 2013 Africa Cup of Nations victory.
Speaking to The Guardian, he said: “In the past few years my only regret is that, as I’ve become a better player, I probably would have got more goals for myself and the country but I missed out a bit.
- “I’ve missed a year and a half, missed out on the cup they won, unfortunately. I wish I was part of that squad because I’ve played in four Africa Nations and got three bronze medals, never a gold.
“But I can’t look back. This is another opportunity for me.”
Match Kicks off at 12 Midnight 00:00 Nigerian time.
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