USA seek victory boost against depleted Nigeria
Both the USA, at 11/10 to taste victory in this tie, and Nigeria, at odds of 13/5 to claim the win, will be hoping for a morale-boost ahead of their appearance at the World Cup finals.
The two teams will be viewed as underdogs in Brazil, competing against heavyweights such as Germany, Portugal and Argentina to top their tables.
The USA are outsiders at 14/1 to emerge as leaders of a challenging Group G, and are 2/9 not to qualify at all. Meanwhile, the Super Eagles are at 10/1 to leapfrog Argentina to win Group F, or at 8/13 to fail at the first hurdle.
Having drawn three of their previous internationals, failing to score against both Scotland and Mexico, Nigeria will be hoping their strikers can make more of an impact against the home side.
With the likes of Chievo and former West Ham United forward Victor Obinna omitted from the final squad, Stephen Keshi will be relying on the Premier League experience of Shola Ameobi, recently released by Newcastle, and the Potter’s hapless Peter Odemwingie.
The Stoke striker scored five times in 15 appearances for the Mark Hughes after his January transfer switch. Ameobi and he are at 5/1 and 11/4 odds to net any time respectively.
In contrast, the Super Eagles face Jurgen Kilnsmann’s side in free-scoring form, with the States having netted six times in their last three outings.
USA may hold the advantage, as in addition to holding the game on home soil, they can also claim the head to head record, emerging as victors in the only other encounter between the two.
In more luck for the North American side, their opponents have suffered a double injury scare.
Monaco left back Elderson Echiejile is facing a race against time to prove his fitness for the finals, with a suspected hamstring injury ruling him out of this clash.
Further woes hit the Nigerian camp, with Ahmed Musa currently struggling to shake a thigh strain. The CSKA Moscow winger is a key man for Keshi, but Chelsea’s Victor Moses will be eager to take the opportunity to shine alongside teammates John Obi Mikel and Kenneth Omeruo, in a side that looks strong defensively, despite injury concerns.
Meanwhile, the home team will look toward dependable talisman Clint Dempsey to work his magic. The courageous captain recently netted in a friendly against Turkey, and scored eight times in six appearances for domestic team Seattle Sounders this term. Former Fulham man Dempsey is 13/2 to be first scorer against a blunt Nigeria outfit, or 15/8 to be on target at any time.
Compatriot Jozy Altidore managed a measly two goals in 40 appearances for a relegation-threatened Sunderland in the 2013/14 season, and will be looking to put a dire domestic club campaign firmly behind him.
His current international form, with eight goals in 13 games, will provide Klinsmann with a glimmer of hope that the Premier League man can propel them past the group stages. The much-maligned striker is at 8/1 to open the floodgates in Florida.
Ultimately, football fans will be left hoping that Keshi’s defence and the American attacking options don’t cancel each other out, with the game at 7/1 to finish as a 0-0 stalemate.