Croatia take on Nigeria in Russia’s European bolthole

KALININGRAD – Former World Cup semi-finalists Croatia take on African powerhouses Nigeria in the Russian exclave of Kaliningrad on Saturday in their opening Group D match that may prove a test of the organisers’ anti-racism drive.

Croatia made the last final four at France ’98  20 years ago with a resounding quarter-final win over favourites Germany, and football fans will be pleased to see a squad brimming with attacking talent.

Nigeria has long been seen a under-performing side during the World Cup tournaments, and in the past decades the team has had many of their players playing in top teams around Europe and hope they will become the first African team to reach the last four.

Kaliningrad, the exclave were the game will take place, is thickly a forested area that lays between Russia, Poland and Lithuania on the Baltic Sea, a location that some fans might struggle to reach.  Both sides have star players, Croatia have star midfielder who plays his club football in Real Madrid and just won the Champions League in May and Nigeria have Victor Moses who plays for Chelsea who won the FA Cup in England.

FIFA official website shows that tickets are still available for the game. Concerns have been raised that racist incidence might be expected during the game, as the nation in the past been plagued by racism since Russia allowed exchange of foreign players in 1991 after the collapse of the Soviet Union.

Photo Credit-  MIGUEL MEDINA, Ben STANSALL / AFP

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