(From Guardian Unlimited)
Ghana may be Germany-bound but the bookies make Nigeria favourites in this clash of the West African giants. And that makes sense: the Super Eagles may be shorn of Jay-Jay Okocha but injuries have hit the Ghanaians even harder - star midfielders Michael Essien and Sulley Muntari are huge absences, and the Black Stars could have done with a fit Asamoah Gyan, too.
All of which means the prolific Obafemi Martins and Shakhtar Donetsk speedster Julius Aghahowa should have plentiful opportunities to stretch the Ghanaian defence; at least that's the thinking that led me to plonk GBP5 on Martins to score first - and another wager says he'll be the tournament's top scorer. Yes, I did place that before the hat-tricks from Samuel Eto'o and Sylvinho Dos Santos ...
Teams: Nigeria: 1-Vincent Enyeama; 2-Joseph Yobo (c), 3-Taye Taiwo, 5-Chidi Odiah, 6-Joseph Enakarhire; 13-Ayila Yussuf, 16-Wilson Oruma, 18-Chris Obodo, 20-Peter Odemwingie; 9-Obafemi Martins, 17-Julius Aghahowa
Ghana: 1-Sam Adjei; 4-Samuel Kuffour, 6-Emmanuel Pappoe, 15-John Pantsil, 18-Abubakari Yakubu, 21-Gabriel Issah Ahmed; 5-John Mensah, 7-Laryea Kingston, 10-Stephen Appiah (c), 23-Haminu Draman; 14-Matthew Amoah
3:43pm: National anthems duly crooned, both sides shakes hands with each other as per the formalities, form themselves into a photogenic pattern for the assembled snappers, and finally take up their positions on either side of the half-way line. Let the battle commence!
1 min: Nigeria set the game in motion, and immediately launch the ball forward in search of Martins. But Taiwo's punt is too long and it's a kick-out to Ghana.
3 mins: After some zipply interplay from Nigeria, Ghana regain possession and Appiah tries to slip Amoah through. But his pass was like Tottenham's Andy Reid - it had far too much weight on it.
6 mins: Obodo concedes a corner, which Appiah overhits awfully.
Here's Shane Breslin, scoffing at my wager on Martins, and then exposing himself as someone even more misguided: …