The Super Eagles begin their warm-up for the finals on Wednesday, with a game against Mexico in Atlanta, Georgia, with coach Stephen Keshi eyeing the game as integral to his plans for Brazil.
Nigeria’s match against Mexico will effectively determine Keshi’s plans for Brazil, as it is the only free window before he opens his training camp in Houston, from 25 May.
Keshi, who last March said Nigeria could reach the semi-finals, has called up three uncapped players for the friendly, including Standard Liege striker Imoh Ezekiel.
Ezekiel has reportedly caught the eye of Belgium coach Marc Wilmots but the player has opted instead to play for his homeland.
Several top stars including Chelsea midfielder
and so may not be fully match fit.
“I am disappointed Moses is not playing but there is nothing I can do as I’m not (Liverpool manager Brendan) Rodgers. I will talk with the player when he is here for the game,” said Keshi.
The coach will also likely face fresh questions about why he has shut out Villarreal striker Ikechukwu Uche, who has scored 12 goals this season in La Liga.
Keshi has maintained that Uche is not in his plans for Brazil because he lacks tactical discipline at international level.
Nigeria and Mexico have played out draws in their two previous meetings but the Eagles handler said he was looking more at the team’s performance.
“What is most crucial is to see how we play as a team. It will give us an idea of some of those who are ready for the big stage,” he said.
From the list of the invited players, select your 23 for the World Cup and another seven for the Standby (the player(s) might not have been invited)
Goalkeepers: Vincent Enyeama (Lille FC, France); Austin Ejide (Hapoel Be’er Sheva, Israel)
Defenders: Elderson Echiejile (Monaco FC, France); Efe Ambrose (Celtic FC, Scotland); Godfrey Oboabona (Rizespor, Turkey); Azubuike Egwuekwe (Warri Wolves); Kenneth Omeruo (Middlesbrough FC, England); Juwon Oshaniwa (Ashdod FC, Israel); Joseph Yobo (Norwich City, England); Kunle Odunlami (Sunshine Stars)
Midfielders: John Mikel Obi (Chelsea FC, England); Ogenyi Onazi (SS Lazio, Italy); Ramon Azeez (Almeria FC, Spain); Shehu Abdullahi (Kano Pillars); Ejike Uzoenyi (Enugu Rangers)
Forwards: Ahmed Musa (CSKA Moscow, Russia); Shola Ameobi (Newcastle United, England); Victor Moses (Liverpool FC, England); Emmanuel Emenike (Fenerbahce FC. Turkey); Obinna Nsofor (Chievo Verona, Italy); *Bright Dike (Toronto FC, Canada), Imoh Ezekiel (Standard Liege, Belgium); Michel Uchebo (Cercle Brugge, Belgium)