Sewnet BishawAfrican champions Nigeria travel to Ethiopia for the first of Sunday’s 2014 World Cup play-off first legs.

The Super Eagles are overwhelming favourites to make a strong start to the two-legged tie and earn an advantage to take forward to the return match in November.

Nigeria played at the previous World Cup in 2010, while Ethiopia are hoping to make it through the play-offs to reach Brazil and make their first appearance at a finals.

Ethiopia appear to have a daunting task against a Nigeria side full of big name players like John Mikel Obi, Victor Moses and Emmanuel Emenike.

But Walya Antelopes coach Sewnet Bishaw is optimistic his side can pull off a shock.

He told BBC Sport: “Nigeria are very experienced and have a lot of talent and skill. But even though they have those qualities, we are at a good level and we will challenge them.

“Our players are young, fresh and have played against many professional players – they have come to understand that it is man against man, and that they can beat any country if they work hard.”

However, Bishaw has been dealt a blow with the absence through injury of key striker Getaneh Kebede Gibeto, who Ethiopia’s joint top scorer in the group stages.

For Nigeria coach Stephen Keshi, he knows his country expects qualification. But despite the pressure that brings, Keshi remains calm and has called for his players to do the same.

“We just have to keep calm, no matter how they are going to provoke us we have to concentrate. My players’ expressions on their faces will tell you how high their spirits are for this game. We will see what happens on Sunday.”

Keshi has also been boosted by striker Shola Ameobi’s assurances he will be fit to play. Read more

 

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