Round of 16 preview: France v Nigeria

Nigeria's powerful offence will test France, which has only allowed two goals so far in the tournament.

    The game will be Nigeria's first in the World Cup knockout round since 1998 [AP]
    The game will be Nigeria's first in the World Cup knockout round since 1998 [AP]

    The fast-paced Nigeria offence will give French defenders their biggest challenge of the World Cup so far, as the two teams play their round of 16 match on Monday.

    "They're a good team, they caused Argentina problems. They are powerful, quick up front and hardworking in midfield," said France midfielder Yohan Cabaye, who is set to play after a suspension. "They play with a lot of energy."

    France recorded shut-outs against both Honduras and Ecuador in the group stage, while allowing only two goals against in a 5-2 victory over Switzerland on June 20.

    Nigeria, meanwhile, had a no-score draw against Iran, beat Bosnia-Herzegovina 1-0, and ended first-round play with a hard-fought loss to Argentina.

    A Nigeria training session was cancelled last Thursday amid reports of a pay dispute, as players reportedly demanded bonuses owed to them. The row was resolved after Nigeria President Goodluck Jonathan spoke to coach Stephen Keshi and captain Joseph Yobo.

    "Our mentality must be strong," Keshi said. "Our approach to every match has always been the same: To win."

    The game will be Nigeria's first in the knockout round since 1998, the year France hosted and won the tournament. According to Nigeria's federation, the team has only played France once at the senior level, winning 1-0 in Paris in 2009.

    Venue: Estádio Nacional de Brasilia, Brasilia

    Kick-off: June 30, 1600GMT

    Key stats: Chelsea winger Victor Moses had been Nigeria's main injury concern, but he trained with the team on Saturday and is expected to play. Midfielder Michael Babatunde, however, will likely be out after fracturing his wrist during the group stage.

    SOURCE: AP


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