International Friendly Preview: Greece v Nigeria


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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Vicente Del Bosque puts faith in misfiring Fernando Torres for World Cup


Fernando Torres was rewarded for his goal in Spain’s 2-0 friendly win over Bolivia with a place in the 23-man squad for its defense of the World Cup in Brazil.
The Chelsea striker got the nod from coach Vicente Del Bosque Saturday despite an indifferent season for his club side Chelsea.
Atletico Madrid’s Diego Costa, who is struggling with a hamstring injury and club teammate David Villa are also included as strikers.
But there was disappointment for another trio of front men, Manchester City pair Jesus Navas and Alvaro Negredo and Fernando Llorente of Juventus.
Midfielder Ander Iturraspe, and defenders Alberto Moreno and Dani Carvajal have also been excluded from the provisional 30 named by Del Bosque.

But the spotlight was on Torres — who has scored just 20 goals in 110 games since his $84 million move to Chelsea.
His appearance against Bolivia Friday night in Sevilla was his first appearance for the world champions since the Confederation Cup nearly a year ago.
The Chelsea striker put in a generally lively performance at the Ramon Sanchez Pizjuan Stadium and after Bayern Munich’s Javi Martinez was pulled down in the penalty area, Torres scored from the spot on 51 minutes.
But moments later Torres showed the other side of his game, his lack of confidence in front of goal.

Put through by man of the match Andres Iniesta, Torres attempted a chipped finish over the head of Bolivian goalkeeper Romel Quininez, but made a horrible hash of it, sending it high and wide.
Torres held his head in his hands, but the miss did not prove significant and Iniesta wrapped up the victory with a stunning goal six minutes from time.
In a pointer to his final selection, Del Bosque gave a positive verdict on Torres, who has played in the last two World Cups and scored 37 goals for his country.

“We have a lot of confidence in him and that’s why he is here,” Del Bosque told gathered reporters after the win.
“We are pleased with how he worked tonight,” he added.
Spain opens its defense of the World Cup with a tough match against the Netherlands on June 13, a repeat of the 2010 final in which Iniesta scored the only goal of the game.
Meanwhile, England got its preparations for Brazil off to a good start with a comfortable 3-0 win over Peru at Wembley.
Daniel Sturridge scored a stunning first half opener for Roy Hodgson’s men == the third goal in his last five starts for England for the Liverpool star.
Central defenders Gary Cahill and Phil Jagielka were on target after the break after well-delivered corners troubled the South American visitors.

Bosnia-Herzegovina was also boosted by a 2-1 success against fellow finalists Ivory Coast.
Its talisman Edin Dzeko grabbed goals in either half before Didier Drogba pulled one back for the Ivorians in the final minute

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