Skip to content

Confederations Cup Preview: Tahiti v. Nigeria

Jun 17, 2013, 12:49 PM EDT

Will African Cup of Nations champs Nigeria scrap through to the final round of WCQ? Will African Cup of Nations champs Nigeria scrap through to the final round of WCQ?

The opening round of the Confederations Cup finishes today with the intriguing yet potentially lopsided clash between Nigeria and Tahiti.

Nigeria qualified for this summer’s quadrennial tournament by winning last winter’s Africa Cup of Nations, defeating Burkina Faso 1-0. The victory reignited hope among fans of the Super Eagles that their country may once again rise up as a legitimate power in world football.

Things got off to a rocky start for the West African nation last Friday when players refused to leave their hotel in Namibia following a World Cup Qualifying match. The lock-down was the result of a dispute concerning player bonuses, with the Nigerian Football Foundation offering the players $2,500 apiece but the players wanting double the amount.

The row was settled following the intervention of the country’s sports minister, Bolaji Abdullahi, who eased tensions between the cash-strapped Nigeria Football Foundation and the players. Without making the resolution public, the players agreed to board a flight from Namibia to Brazil on Saturday, leaving them only one day to train ahead of this afternoon’s match against Tahiti.

Despite the drama, Nigeria are still heavy favorites to overcome their French Polynesian opponents. The Super Eagles are unbeaten in 17 matches although they have won only once in their last four games since claiming the Africa Cup of Nations title. The Nigerians are led defensively by Celtic’s Efe Ambrose, who is determined not to be on the end of an upset by Tahiti. “Big shocks have happened before in these kind of tournaments and we don’t want to be the victims this time.”

The Super Eagles will be without Lazio midfielder Ogenyi Onazi, who was ruled out after suffering a knee injury in the encounter with Namibia, and will look to Chelsea’s Jon Obi Mikel to marshall both sides of the ball. Up top, Nigeria will seek out highly-touted 20 year old CSKA Moscow striker Ahmed Musa, who could use this tournament as a platform for his breakout.

Tahiti qualfiied for the Confederations Cup last June when the they shocked the continent by defeating New Calendonia 1-0 to claim their first Oceania Nations Cup. Despite those heroics, Tahiti have had a tough go of it of late with four straight losses in the third and final stage of Oceania region World Cup qualifiers, dashing their hopes of a return to Brazil next summer.

Tahiti’s hopes of securing victory against Nigeria can be summed up by a look at the team roster, which is made up mainly by amateurs who quietly ply their trade on French Polynesia’s main island. Only one player, uncapped former France Under 21 striker Marama Vahirua, plays football professionally (for Ligue 1’s Nancy). The rest of the squad is comprised of office workers, laborers, school teachers, salesman, delivery men and accountants.

Mikael Roche, Tahiti’s starting goalkeeper and a school teacher, talked about the rigors of going from a deskjob to training. “It is quite difficult, as we start each day very early and so have to wake up early, and yes, it is not physical work but still demanding,” Roche said. “I just have time to go home, collect my bag and go to the pitch so the timelines are quite short.”

If Tahiti are to challenge Nigeria, the goals will likely come from midfielder Lorenzo Tehau, his twin brother Alvin Tehau, their older brother Teaonui Tehau, or their cousin Jonathan Tehau. The quartet of Tehau’s have managed to score 15 of Tahiti’s 20 goals during their Oceania Nations Cup success.

The match kicks-off today at 3:00pm on ESPN in the United States and 8:00pm on BBC3 in the United Kingdom.

Latest Posts
  1. U-20 World Cup preview: The groups, the favorites, USA outlook and the game’s future stars

    May 28, 2015, 11:13 PM EDT

    Previews - FIFA U-20 World Cup New Zealand 2015 Previews - FIFA U-20 World Cup New Zealand 2015

    The U-20 World Cup kicks off late Thursday night (US time). Get yourself caught up on what — and who — to watch.

  2. Carlo Ancelotti weighing offer to return to AC Milan

    May 28, 2015, 8:52 PM EDT

    Carlo Ancelotti, AC Milan Getty Images

    Landing Ancelotti would be the best thing AC Milan have done in years.

  3. Gulati: U.S. Soccer will vote for Prince Ali bin Al-Hussein in FIFA election, not Sepp Blatter

    May 28, 2015, 7:15 PM EDT

    Sunil Gulati, U.S. Soccer & FIFA ExCo Sunil Gulati, U.S. Soccer & FIFA ExCo

    Sunil Gulati is putting his not only talking the talk, but walking the walk, with regard to much-needed reform in world soccer.

  4. Men in Blazers podcast: Talking FIFA corruption arrests, Sepp Blatter with Bob Ley

    May 28, 2015, 5:25 PM EDT

    meninblazers

    Bob Ley joins the Men in Blazers to talk about the FIFA arrests and decades of corruption inside world football’s governing body.

  5. 2014-15 Premier League season review: Summer transfer needs

    May 28, 2015, 4:56 PM EDT

    Paul Pogba — coming to a Premier League club near you? Paul Pogba — coming to a Premier League club near you?

    With the 2014-15 season in the books, clubs are already busy making moves for next season. Where should each club focus their efforts (and $$$)?

  6. VIDEO: PST Extra reviews the 2014-15 Premier League season

    May 28, 2015, 3:25 PM EDT

    Going over the highs and lows, the surprises and disappointments, plus much more from the PL season that was, here’s the latest PST Extra.

  7. Premier League 2014-15 review – Top 10 games of the season

    May 28, 2015, 2:33 PM EDT

    Costa scored twice, as USA's Howard let in six on Saturday. AP

    Remember these 10 matches from the 2014-15 season? Here’s highlights from them all.

  8. By the numbers: 2014-15 Premier League season in review

    May 28, 2015, 1:35 PM EDT

    Burnley v Stoke City - Premier League Getty Images

    Burnley and Chelsea will find their names often amongst the top stat men in the Premier League this season.

  9. Steven Gerrard set to make LA Galaxy debut on July 11

    May 28, 2015, 12:57 PM EDT

    Liverpool legend will be heading to California soon, says Bruce Arena.

  10. Sepp Blatter transcript in full; admits “shame and humiliation” of FIFA scandal

    May 28, 2015, 12:08 PM EDT

    65th FIFA Congress - Opening Ceremony Getty Images

    FIFA’s long-time president has addressed the congress in Zurich about the shocking allegations of corruption.

  11. UEFA could leave FIFA if Blatter stays on, as support for Prince Ali grows

    May 28, 2015, 11:25 AM EDT

    UEFA to discuss possibility of walking away from FIFA in Berlin next month.

  12. Sepp Blatter refuses to quit as FIFA president despite plea from UEFA’s Michel Platini

    May 28, 2015, 10:05 AM EDT

    150528_BlatterFIFAlog Getty Images

    UEFA’s chief pleads with Blatter to walk away as world soccer’s governing body is in ruins.

  13. In historic first, FIFA 16 video game to feature women’s national teams, players

    May 28, 2015, 9:31 AM EDT

    (Photo Courtesy EA Sports) (Photo Courtesy EA Sports)

    PHOTOS & VIDEO: Women’s players are available in the FIFA video game series for the first time.

  14. Rafael Benitez confirms Napoli exit, expected to take charge of Real Madrid

    May 28, 2015, 9:00 AM EDT

    Rafael Benítez Rafael Benítez

    Former Valencia, Liverpool boss has called time in Naples as his hometown is calling.

  15. Russia, Vladimir Putin criticize US government for “illegal persecution” of FIFA

    May 28, 2015, 7:51 AM EDT

    Sepp Blatter, Vladimir Putin Sepp Blatter, Vladimir Putin

    The Russian president finds it “odd” that the FBI is chasing down FIFA officials…

  16. MLS Snapshot: LA Galaxy 1-0 Real Salt Lake

    May 28, 2015, 12:53 AM EDT

    Juninho, LA Galaxy Juninho, LA Galaxy

    Juninho’s early PK is all the Galaxy need, as they climb to 4th in the Western Conference. RSL, meanwhile, are on the outside looking in.

  17. US Open Cup 3rd round roundup: MLS teams learn 4th round opponents

    May 28, 2015, 12:43 AM EDT

    DC United v Real Salt Lake - 2013 U.S. Open Cup Final Getty Images

    17 MLS teams will entire this year’s US Open Cup in the 4th round. On Wednesday, they learned who they’ll face.

  18. MLS Snapshot: Portland Timbers 1-0 D.C. United

    May 28, 2015, 12:30 AM EDT

    Maximiliano Urruti, Portland Timbers Maximiliano Urruti, Portland Timbers

    Wins in May don’t get much more “must-win” than this one. PDX tops the East’s top team.

  19. Agent: Mario Balotelli “will definitely stay” at Liverpool despite disappointing first season

    May 27, 2015, 8:15 PM EDT

    Mario Balotelli, Liverpool FC Mario Balotelli, Liverpool FC

    According to his agent, Balotelli is going nowhere this summer. He’ll stay and fight for his place next season.

  20. FIFA ethics committee bans 11 current, former officials from all football-related activities

    May 27, 2015, 6:15 PM EDT

    Getty Images Getty Images

    11 current and former officials from around the world have been provisionally banned from all football-related activities.

Featured video

PST Extra reviews the 2014-15 season