BLOEMFONTEIN: Nigeria and Greece go into their match on Thursday knowing that defeat in Bloemfontein will almost certainly spell the end of their World Cup dreams after damaging opening defeats.
The Super Eagles went down 1-0 to Argentina in their Group B clash on Saturday with Greece crashing 2-0 to South Korea the same day, leaving both in desperate need of points to keep their tournament hopes alive.
Wolfsburg forward Obafemi Martins, a second-half substitute, said a win at the Free State stadium was vital for Nigeria, who created a host of chances against Argentina but failed to convert them into goals.
"The match against Greece is so important now because we simply have to pick up three points. We?re still in with a good chance," he said.
Coach Lars Lagerback remains upbeat about Nigeria's chances despite a miserable run. Since their last win in a World Cup finals at France 1998 they have gone six matches without a win - including five defeats.
"I know that my Super Eagles players will handle this situation very well so from my point of view I am very positive going into the next game. It doesn't matter if Greece had lost or won," he said.
One player desperate to make an impact is Olympic gold medal-winning striker Nwankwo Kanu, who has defied the advancing years and a serious heart problem just after the 1996 Olympic triumph to appear in his third finals.
After Nigeria failed to convert their chances in their defeat to Argentina he will be eyeing a starting spot against Greece.
"I know I cannot play on until I am 50 so this will be my last World Cup, but I still feel I have something to offer," he said.
Greece shocked the football world by winning Euro 2004 but came crashing down after that triumph, failing to qualify for the 2006 World Cup in Germany.
Now, gracing the World Cup stage for only the second time in their history, they are anxious to avoid a repeat of 1994 when they suffered three defeats in the United States without scoring a single goal.
But Panathinaikos striker Dimitris Salpingidis insisted they could bounce back from their opening defeat and stay alive in South Africa.
"We were very annoyed to have lost to South Korea but we've shown in the past that we're capable of overcoming obstacles," he said.
"We have quality, and we're not out of the tournament yet. There's still two games to play. We still have dreams and we'll do our best to make them continue."
He said Nigeria were strong in attack but added: "We have also shown in recent years that in big matches we have a compact defence with a quick counter-attack, that's the way we play."
Greek goalkeeper Alexandros Tzorvas said: "Nigeria have very strong, physical players but we must first fix and prepare our team and then we see what we need to do to stop our opponent."
One major obstacle in the way of the Greeks is Nigerian stopper Vincent Enyeama, who pipped Argentine superstar Lionel Messi for official man-of-the-match honours in their Johannesburg clash.
KEY TO MATCH
Vincent Enyeama v Greek attack
Nigerian goalkeeper Vincent Enyeama dazzled during his side's opening match against Argentina, keeping out the South Americans' dazzling array of striking talent. To break their World Cup scoring duck, the Greek forwards, including Euro 2004 star Angelos Charisteas, will have to find a way past the in-form keeper.