2014 World Cup Draws: Minnows Can Shock Eagles

•DENIAL…Nigeria’s Super Eagles’ goalkeeper Vincent Enyeama (left) blocks the ball in front of Ethiopia’s Shemeles Bekele  during a World Cup 2014 qualifier on 13 October, 2013 in Addis Ababa.  AFP PHOTO

Nigeria's Super Eagle goalkeeper Vincent Enyeama (L) blocks the ball in front of Ethiopia's Shemeles Bekele during a World Cup 2014 qualifier football match on October 13, 2013 in Addis Ababas. AFP PHOTO / SIMON MAINA

Erstwhile coach of the Super Eagles of Nigeria, Samson Siasia has asked Nigerians not to pray for an easy draw for the team as the draws for the Brazil 2014 World Cup draws hold tomorrow at the Costa do Sauipe in the Brazilian state of Bahia.

Siasia, a member of the first Nigerian team to participate at the senior World Cup at the USA ’94 while speaking on a radio station monitored in Lagos State Thursday said there is no reason Nigerians should want the Eagles in a week group as the minnows may want to record an upset against the reigning African champions.

He posited further that playing in a stronger group at the group stage would prepare the team for what to expect if they scale through the group, “I don’t know why Nigerians are jittery about the World Cup draw tomorrow, what I expect the technical crew of the Eagles to do is to prepare adequately for the World Cup proper and not trouble themselves with the draw.”

Meanwhile, Edson Arantes do Nascimento better known as Pele has said Brazil will enter next year’s tournament with more humility than when the country last hosted soccer’s marquee event in 1950.

Then, the nation was shocked 2-1 by Uruguay in the final game at Rio de Janeiro’s Maracana Stadium in what is considered as a national tragedy by some Brazilians. Pele said he remembers a party atmosphere before the match started.

“It was as if Brazil had won before the game,” the 73-year-old said Wednesday in a telephone interview. “We will be careful this time and respect people. That’s a better way than 1950,” said Pele, the only person to win three World Cups as a player.

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Brazil will be bidding for a record-extending sixth World Cup when the competition kicks off in Sao Paulo on 12 June. Pele will be in the Brazilian resort of Costa do Sauipe tomorrow for the draw to determine which teams face each other in the opening phase of the 64-game competition.

Pele said history shows the tournament is difficult to predict. Brazil’s 1982 team featuring players including Zico and Falcao were talked up as winners before being eliminated in a second-group stage by eventual champion Italy, Pele said.

“You must respect the World Cup,” Pele said. “It’s a box of surprises.”

In 1950, then-FIFA President Jules Rimet had prepared a valedictory speech in Portuguese on the assumption Brazil would win the final. In the end, he handed the trophy to the Uruguayan captain without fanfare as 173,850 fans were stunned into silence.

Brazil beat world champion Spain 3-0 in the Confederations Cup final in June and no European team has won the World Cup in four editions held in South America. Still, Pele said Spain and Germany are favourites.