President Cup 2014 Togo

Nigeria World Cup InterviewAs part of our World Cup coverage, we have interviewed journalists, correspondents, experts & writers representing each of the 32 countries to give you, the readers, a better understanding of the 32 nations participating in the 2014 FIFA World Cup. Here are the list of interviewees.

For this interview, focusing on Nigeria, we spoke with Samuel Audu, award-winning journalist with Agence France Presse, German News Agency, KickOff magazine, FourFourTwo (among others). Follow him on Twitter .

A lot of Nigerian’s ply their trade in Europe. Do you think that doing so brings them an unfair share of attention, and hence greater chances of selection? Or is their experience in Europe deserving of a spot in the World Cup squad?

The truth is that playing in Europe will more often than not give you a better chance of catching the attention of the national selectors. This has been more the rule than the exception over the years. However, coach Stephen Keshi has been bold enough in his three years in charge to give players from the domestic league a more decent run in his team so much so that the home-based players are no longer just mere “training materials”.

2014 FIFA World Cup Group FThe domestic league is lagging far behind on many fundamentals, from players’ welfare to training facilities, and so it is not as professional as the organisers would want us to believe. In such a situation, a move overseas would most likely improve considerably a player from the local league.

John Obi Mikel enjoys a lot more freedom in midfield when he plays with Nigeria. Do you think this brings out the best in him, or is he more suited to the deeper role he plays at Chelsea?

Mikel was first and foremost an attacking midfielder and it was in that role that he was voted as the second best player at the 2005 FIFA U20 World Cup in the Netherlands behind a certain Lionel Messi. It was at Chelsea under Jose Mourinho that he was converted to a holding player in midfield.

He has played with a lot more freedom in the middle of the park under Keshi and the result is that he is one of the key players Nigeria will be counting on at Brazil 2014. This is his best role especially if he could get another midfielder to win the balls for him.

Nigeria are the defending African champions but expectations seem to be more from other African sides as opposed to the Super Eagles. What could be the reason for this and can it be used to their advantage?

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