BELO HORIZONTE (Sporting Alert) — Chelsea FC midfielder John Obi Mikel is part of the starting line up for Nigeria in today’s Confederations Cup Group B clash with little known Tahiti at Estadio Mineirao.
Mikel, a member of the Nigeria team that won the African Cup of Nations, will play in the middle of park to anchor things for coach Stephen Keshi’s injured hit squad.
Nnamdi Oduamadi, Sunday Mbah, Efe Ambrose and Ahmed Musa all start as well.
Tahiti coach Eddy Etaeta, who admits that he has some concerns ahead of the clash, handed a debut to former France Under-21 player Marama Vahirua, who is expected to be the focal point in the attack.
After being thrashed 7-0 in a warm-up game against Chile’s under-20, Etaeta said his main focus will be to keep things much tighter at the back to avoid such an embarrassment in Brazil.
He also wants his team to take contest as serious as possible, even though they are more used to just playing for fun.
“I’m afraid we will go to Brazil and not give a very good image of Tahitian football,” the coach said.
“Yes, we play football but normally it’s for fun, mixed in with a bit of competition. But we can’t play for fun now.”
Tahiti v Nigeria
Tahiti: Samin, Vallar, Simon, Ludivion, Alvin Tehau, Caroine, Bourebare, Aitamai, Jonathan Tehau, Chong Hue, Vahirua
Subs: Roche, Wagemann, Faatiarau, Teaonui Tehau, Atani, Lemaire, Aroita, Lorenzo Tehau, Tihoni, Vero, Hnanyine, Meriel
Nigeria: Enyeama, Oboabona, Echiejile, Ambrose, Omeruo, Mikel, Ogude, Mba, Ujah, Musa, Oduamadi
Subs: Ejide, Ogu, Egwueke, Ideye, Akpala, Mohammed, Kwambe, Babatunde, Onazi, Eze, Benjamin, Agbim
Referee: Joel Aguilar (Slovakia)