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Brazil 2014: Nigeria faces Scotland despite match-fixing allegations

Nigeria are 44th in the FIFA world ranking; 22 places behind Scotland.

The African champions, Super Eagles of Nigeria, will on Wednesday evening attempt to give a glimpse of what to expect from them at next month’s World Cup in Brazil as they take on the Scottish national team in a high profile friendly which is part of their build-up to the mundial.

The Wednesday friendly which has been enmeshed in match-fixing allegations, with investigations ongoing, will go on as planned by 8 p.m. at the Craven Cottage, organisers of the game have stated.

The National Crime Agency, NCA, of United Kingdom indicated on Tuesday that they have launched a match-fixing investigation into the friendly match following alerts that the match could be fixed.

The NCA, which investigates serious and organised crime, is reported by the Daily Telegraph to have asked FIFA, the world football governing body, to issue an alert over attempts to fix the game.

There is no specific reason given why the match is being investigated although the usual causes are suspicious betting patterns or confessions of the players that they were approached by match fixers.

Sadly, Nigeria is now consistently being linked with match –fixing; the most recent being the claim by a Singaporean that he aided Nigeria’s qualification for the FIFA 2010 World Cup. It will also be recalled that the international friendly between Nigeria and Argentina, which the Eagles won 4-1,in Abuja was also allegedly fixed. The Nigerian Football Federation have denied all the allegations.

While some expect an easy ride for Coach Stephen Keshi and his men against the Scots on Wednesday, available statistics suggest otherwise as Coach Gordon Strachan’s side have improved greatly from what they used to be and look more like a formidable side than they ever were.
Strachan’s side failed to reach the summer’s World Cup but an impressive run of four wins out of their last five games has lifted spirits ahead of the European Championship qualifying campaign, which starts in Germany on September 7.

More than anything else, Wednesday’s tune-up game for Nigeria provides an opportunity for Coach Stephen Keshi to take a good look at his squad as he fashions out a winning strategy going on to Brazil.

Updates from the Eagles camp Tuesday evening indicated that the players seemed determined to convince the coach that they are ready for Brazil. It was reported that home based winger, Ejike Uzoenyi, shown like a million stars, same for Ramon Azeez, Michael Uchebo, and Victor Moses, while the regulars did not fail to impress with skipper Joseph Yobo showing that he was still the commander in the defence line.

Going into Wednesday’s game, Nigeria are 44th in the FIFA world ranking; 22 places behind Scotland, despite the failure of Gordon Strachan’s men to reach the World Cup.

A five-match unbeaten run – that has included wins over Macedonia, Croatia, Norway and Poland – has helped Scotland surge up in the rankings.

They are the second-highest ranked team not to feature in Brazil, but will be using the match as preparation for the start of their UEFA Euro 2016 qualifying campaign.

It will be recalled that two goals from Julius Aghahowa gave the Super Eagles a 2-1 win over the Tartan Army on April 17, 2002 in what was their last meeting before Wednesday’s game.

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