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International Preview: Republic of Ireland V Nigeria
Ireland - Nigeria | News Archive

Roy Keane set to start for Ireland (Allsport)
05/16/2002. AT STAKE

Not much, but it is Ireland's send-off game before the World Cup, giving 48,000 Irish fans the opportunity to bid bon voyage to their heroes.

Both sides will find the others worthy opponents. Nigeria can give the Irish an insight into African football ahead of their World Cup opener with Cameroon, while the Nigerians will be seeking to learn about the "British way", though the European boys in green do play more attractively than that.

TEAM NEWS AND CURRENT FORM

It always happens in the run-up to World Cups and other major tournaments that at least one unlucky individual misses out on the big time at the eleventh hour.

For Ireland, it's Mark Kennedy this time. He ruptured his groin while playing in Niall Quinn's testimonial in Sunderland on Tuesday night.

Bizarrely, the Wolves winger was the one Irishman who stayed on the pitch the longest - 80 minutes. All other Irish players got a 45-minute run-out.

Whether Kennedy was kept on the pitch by accident or whether it was a worthy fitness test, Steven Reid is the player who benefits from the former Millwall man's misfortune.

Reid is a current Lion who has impressed greatly in recent friendly internationals.

Another question mark hangs over whether Reid will line out tonight.

Irish boss Mick McCarthy says he will be playing his first choice World Cup XI in this evening's game.

That includes Roy Keane, who was Given the night off in Sunderland, but whose non-appearance in the Stadium of Light caused a flurry of activity.

McCarthy explained later that he didn't want to cause speculation over the state of Keane's hamstring injury - but in doing so, caused a situation akin to a school principal giving a pupil the day off without telling his teacher or the rest of the class.

Nigeria's team has an air of mystery surrounding it - Festus Adegboye Onigbinde is now coach and his team is likely to figure two players from the Premiership, Arsenal striker Kanu and Celestine Babayaro of Chelsea.

The Nigerian FA sacked their previous coach following a poor campaign in the African Cup of Nations.

Another shock lies in store for Bayer Leverkusen's Karibe Ojigwe.

A loser in last night's Champions League Final, he now faces exemption from the Nigerian squad, with veteran striker Mutiu Adepoju now likely to sneak in at the last minute.

Crewe keeper Ademola Bankole will also be left out of the squad, meaning Nigerian League custodians Austin Ejide and Vincent Enyeama will travel to the Far East.

Both will act as cover for first choice Ike Shorumu.

PAST ENCOUNTERS

None - tonight is their first ever meeting

WHO'S HOT

Ireland - Damien Duff. Jack Charlton rates the Blackburn winger as one of only two world-class players within the Irish ranks. His recent performances against Denmark and Russia were nothing short of startling, his club form has rocketed as a result and remember, he's now a winner - with a Worthington Cup medal in the back drawer at home.

Arsenal - Kanu. African Player of the Year and deservedly so. Heading into his third World Cup, Kanu now has a Premiership and FA Cup double under his belt after a spectacular season. The Super Eagle has been one of the main contributors to the conversion of the Gunners into a powerful, entertaining, high-scoring unit.

WHO'S NOT

Ireland - Steve Finnan. Hasn't been as sure of foot in club action recently as much as he would undoubtedly like.

Nigeria - Ademola Bankole. Would have been the first Crewe goalkeeper ever to play in the World Cup. Not now.

TEAMS
Ireland (Probable) - Given (Newcastle), Finnan (Fulham), Staunton (Aston Villa), Cunningham (Wimbledon), Harte (Leeds), Keane (Manchester United), Kinsella (Charlton), McAteer (Sunderland), Kilbane (Sunderland), Duff (Blackburn), Keane (Leeds).

Nigeria (Probable) - Ike Shorunmu (Lucerne/Switzerland), Taribo West (unattached), Celestine Babayaro (Chelsea/England), Christopher Kanu (Ajax/Holland), Joseph Yobo (Marseille/Fra), Austin 'Jay Jay' Okocha (Paris Saint Germain/France), Mutiu Adepoju (Salamanca/Spa), Emeka Ugali (Monza/Ita), Ndubuisi Eze (Julius Berger/Nigeria),
Bartholomew Ogbeche (Paris Saint Germain/France), Nwankwo Kanu (Arsenal/England).

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Thursday, May 16, 2002

Nigeria beat Ireland in warm-up
Alex Richardson

Ireland 1-2 Nigeria


Roy Keane of Ireland battles against Nigeria.
(Allsport)
DUBLIN, May 16 (Reuters) - Nigeria ruined Ireland's pre-World Cup send-off on Thursday, beating the home side 2-1 in a friendly international at Lansdowne Road.

A capacity crowd of over 42,600 had turned out for a last chance to see Mick McCarthy's team before they depart for Saipan on Friday morning, but it was the visitors who gave their World Cup preparations a boost, punishing Irish defensive lapses with goals from Julius Aghahowa and Efe Sodje.

Stephen Reid, a late call up to the Ireland squad after the withdrawal through injury of Mark Kennedy, pulled a goal back, and a late Mark Kinsella effort was disallowed.

McCarthy began the game with the team he is likely to pick for Ireland's opening World Cup tie against Cameroon, with the main talking point his decision to partner Matt Holland rather than Kinsella alongside captain Roy Keane in central midfield.

The home side made most of the early running, but it was Nigeria who struck the first blow after 13 minutes.

A lovely, lofted pass from Austin "jay jay" Okacha in the NIgerian midfield split the Irish defence wide open, and Aghahowa raced through to calmly slot the ball past Shay Given.

Ireland continued to create chances, with first a Robbie Keane header and then a thunderous shot form Holland forcing saves from Ike Shoronmu in the Nigerian goal.

Just before halftime Robbie Keane should have equalised. A cross from Jason McAteer on the right flank found the Leeds United striker unmarked on the edge of the six yard box, but his header was misdirected and passed wide of Shoronmu's left hand post.

FREE HEADER

Barely a minute into the second half Nigeria were further in front. Lax marking at a corner gave Sodje a free header at the back post, and the right-back made no mistake.

As the second half wore on McCarthy made a string of substitutions, and his side struggled to find fluency.

But it was one of the replacements, Millwalls's Reid, who gave the Irish some hope in the 68th minute, cutting in from the right flank and dancing through the Nigerian defence before unleashing a left footed shot into the top corner of the goal.

Ireland continued to press, and three minutes from the end another substitute, Charlton midfielder Kinsella found the net, only to see the goal ruled out by the Portuguese referee for offside.

McCarthy said: "We had chance after chance. I think we deserved an equaliser. We should have won that game. Overall I'm very pleased with the performance but disappointed with the result.

"Hopefully, we can play as well as that in the World Cup and get results."

Ireland face African Nations Cup winners Cameroon as well as Germany and Saudi Arabia in group E.

"It's shown us that Cameroon aren't (going to be) any mugs. I think they are better than Nigeria," said McCarthy.

Nigeria are drawn in Group F, along with Argentina, England and Sweden.

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Not the send off Ireland wanted, but I don't think they will be too concerned. This game will help then when playing against Cameroon in Group E.
 
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