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Football: Nigeria, Algeria eye Africa World Cup first

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(Globalpost/GlobalPost)

Nigeria and Algeria will be chasing World Cup history here Monday when they bid to overcome France and Germany for a place in the quarter-finals.

Africa has never had two teams in the last 16 and if both sides pull off upset wins, it would set up a last eight meeting which would guarantee the continent a first ever place in the semi-finals.

French coach Didier Deschamps and Germany's Joachim Loew know however that if they win, their sides will clash in the quarter finals.

France take on Nigeria in Brasilia at 1600 GMT while Germany play Algeria, with the North Africans also playing for revenge, in Porto Alegre at 2000 GMT.

Germany have played Algeria twice -- at the World Cup in 1982 and in a 1964 friendly -- and lost both games, but it is Vahid Halilhodzic's Algeria who have revenge on their mind.

The Desert Foxes have "not forgotten" 1982; when West Germany lost 2-1 to Algeria and then played out a 1-0 win over Austria that ensured the European neighbours qualified for the second round. The game has gone down in football history as "The Shame of Gijon", after the Spanish city where it was played.

Algerian midfielder Hassan Yebda says the north Africans are equally interested in claiming a major scalp.

"We are a little bit optimistic," said the Udinese midfielder cautiously. "Germany are the best team here, we need the perfect game and it would be a sensation if we can reach the quarter-finals."

Loew rejects talk of revenge as barely anyone in the German squad was even born when the shame game was played. His side, minus Lukas Podolski who has a thigh injury, will start as favourites but he has also warned them against complacency.

"Anyone who thinks that an easy opponent is waiting for us in the next round is making an enormous mistake," said Loew after Germany finished as Group G winners.

Team captain Philipp Lahm has also said Germany must prove on the field that they are worthy of the reputation of being Europe's best hope at the World Cup.

"We have had great teams in the past and this squad has great potential, but we have to take it a round at a time and play aggressively," he said.

The Algeria match has put authorities in France on alert, following violence which erupted after the north Africans qualification for the second round.

Algerians make up France's largest immigrant group, with close to two million people, and many hold dual citizenship.

"We are asking everyone to stay calm while celebrating a victory," said Harlem Desir, the French Secretary of State of European Affairs, on Monday.

France meanwhile will aim to discover their scoring touch against Nigeria.

After rattling in eight goals in their opening two games, a changed French side were held 0-0 by Ecuador in their last group game.

Mathieu Valbuena is expected return and Laurent Koscielny could line up in central defence alongside Raphael Varane as Mamadou Sakho is doubtful due to a thigh injury.

Yohan Cabaye will return after missing the Ecuador game due to suspension, but Paul Pogba's place is under threat from Moussa Sissoko.

Cabaye meanwhile has warned his team-mates they will have to be at their sharpest to beat Nigeria's France-based goalkeeper Vincent Enyeama.

Enyeama kept 21 clean sheets for Lille in Ligue 1 last season.

"He's a very good goalkeeper; a very, very good goalkeeper, even," said Cabaye.

"He's shown it at Lille, but also in Israel before. Nigeria are a team who don't concede many goals and he's largely responsible for that."

Off the pitch Arjen Robben caused a storm when he apparently told Dutch television he dived during the controversial 2-1 win over Mexico on Sunday -- but not for the penalty awarded in time added on.

However, the Dutch football federation issued a strongly-worded statement saying the media had mis-interpreted Robben and the Bayern Munich star had said he'd fallen not dived too easily.

FIFA also said they would not be taking any action.

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http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/afp/140630/football-nigeria-algeria-eye-africa-world-cup-first