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OFFICIAL club website of stoke city

FIFA World Cup Brazil 2014 Preview: Peter Odemwingie

PETER ODEMWINGIE arguably gives Stoke City representatives at this summer's World Cup their best chances of a win from the opening group games in Brazil.

Whilst Wilson Palacios and Asmir Begovic both had tough encounters yesterday - and Geoff Cameron facing a tricky tie against Ghana later on this evening - it is Odemwingie that will be most confident of his Nigeria team's chances of getting points on the board against outsiders Iran this evening.

Following his recent recall into the international fold, City's forward is hoping to take his club form into the tournament as the Super Eagles look to advance.

How big an achievement is it for you personally to be going to the World Cup Finals this summer?

"I feel like a little boy now, I've missed a year and a half, missed out on the cup they won, unfortunately. I wish I was part of that squad because I've played in four Africa Nations and got three bronze medals, never a gold. But I can't look back. This is another opportunity for me. I want to go there and, every minute I get to play, whether I start or don't start, make the best out of it, because the moment leaving my family at the door, looking at me waving, was a bit emotional."

What would represent a successful tournament for you as a nation?

"Well I look at Ghana in the last World Cup and they almost got to the semi-final and if you look at the names of the players, they're not any better than our team we have today. They succeeded with their work ethic, with their determination, and Asamoah Gyan was in good form. So hopefully we can better our previous outings."

Can you give us a random fact about your country that maybe not many people would be aware of?

"Football unites Nigeria. Politicians even say that whenever Super Eagles are playing, there is always peace, everyone loves each other, especially when we play well. The past victories that Nigeria achieved in tournaments, they keep showing the games again and again on TV up to when people know every pass and the commentary."


POPULATION // 174 million
NATIONAL ANTHEM // Arise, O Compatriots
BEST WORLD CUP FINISH // Round of 16 in 1994, 1998

Former Togo and Mali boss Keshi took over the Super Eagles in 2011 and led them to Africa Cup of Nations glory last year. A day later he handed in his resignation after learning that the Nigeria FA were going to sack him after the tournament, but rescinded it the day after following peacemaking talks. As a result of that cup triumph, he led them to the Confederations Cup in Brazil last summer - where they faced Spain, Uruguay and Tahiti - and he'll be hoping that the experience will help them be prepared for this tournament 12 months on.

The Veteran goalkeeper earned his first Nigeria cap back in 2002 and has kept goal for 91 matches for his country. He played in his homeland until 2005 when he made the move to Israeli football, first with Bnei Yehuda and then Hapoel Tel Aviv. His impressive performances for Hapoel earned him a transfer to Lille in 2011 and last season he amassed an impressive 11 consecutive clean sheets - over 1,000 minutes without conceding a goal - for the Ligue 1 club as they finished third behind Paris Saint-Germain and Monaco.

The Chelsea forward is well-known to English football fans and he'll be hoping to provide the attacking spark along with Peter Odemwingie. Coming through the ranks at Crystal Palace, he made his named in the Premier League with Wigan Athletic before joining Chelsea in the summer of 2012. His first season saw him net 10 goals for the Stamford Bridge club, before joining rivals Liverpool on a season-long loan following the return of manager Jose Mourinho. He endured a frustrating season for the Reds but should have plenty left in the tank to give defenders a problem or two in Brazil.

Making it out of the group-stages in their first-ever World Cup appearance in 1994, they were on the cusp of knocking out eventual runners-up Italy in the Round of 16. Roberto Baggio netted an 88th minute equaliser for the Italians, before scoring again in extra-time, to break Nigerian hearts.

Nigeria have the second youngest squad in the entire tournament, with an average of just 25.8. Fellow Africans Ghana are top of the pile with 25.4.

Nigeria vs Iran - Monday 16th June (8.00pm British Summer Time)
Nigeria vs Bosnia & Herzegovina - Saturday 21st June (11.00pm)
Nigeria vs Argentina - Wednesday 25th June (5.00pm)

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