By Izuchukwu Okosi:
Nigeria Super Sand Eagles star Bartholomew Igbenegbu believes the side's first game at the 2017 FIFA Beach Soccer World Cup against Italy will not be an easy contest but is confident the team will defeat the Europeans, Completesportsnigeria.com reports.
Nigeria begin their campaign with a match against Italy at the National Beach Soccer Arena, Nassau on Thursday. The team will also play against Mexico and Iran in Group B of the tournament.
Coach Audu Adamu's squad has experienced players like Isiaka Olawale, Ogbonnaya Okemiri, Bartholomew Ibenegbu, Abu Azeez, Victor Tale and goalkeeper Godwin Anyalogu.
Also in the team are new players like Godspower Igudia, Emeka Ogbonna, Emmanuel Owhoferia and Suleiman Mohammed.
"Surely it will be fun. The Beach World Cup is as exciting as it is competitive," Ibenegbu told Completesportsnigeria.com.
"We are in good spirits ahead of this match.
"We are not expecting an easy match against the Italians but we have played in this tournament before and looking forward to it. I pray we start the World Cup with a win."
Ibenegbu has played in 14 Beach Soccer World Cup matches with nine goals to his credit since his debut in 2006.
Nigeria participated in four of the previous eight FIFA Beach Soccer World Cup competitions.
They crashed out at group stage in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil in 2006 and in Dubai, UAE in 2009, but made it to the quarter-finals in Rio de Janeiro in 2007 and in Ravenna, Italy six years ago.