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Sizing up La Liga title contenders

La Liga
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By ESPN Staff

Okocha blow for Nigeria World Cup qualifiers

LAGOS, Aug 31 (Reuters) - Nigeria captain Jay-Jay Okocha will miss Sunday's World Cup qualifier against Algeria because of a groin injury, the Nigerian Football Association (NFA) said on Wednesday.

'Okocha sent us a fax saying he has a groin injury and won't be available for the game,' an NFA statement said.

'It's a blow to our World Cup qualifying campaign but we'll fight on.'

Nigeria must win their remaining two matches to have any hopes of qualifying for the World Cup as they are second behind Angola on an inferior head-to-head record despite being level on 15 points.

Only the group winners will qualify for the 2006 World Cup finals in Germany.

The NFA said Italy-based defender Daniel Ola is also nursing an injury and had been replaced by PSV Eindhoven defender Michael Lamey.

Despite representing the Dutch under-21 side, Lamey's mother is a Nigerian and he can switch to play for Nigeria based on new eligibility rules by world soccer's governing body FIFA.

NFA officials said Norwegian club Lyn FC had agreed that youth international John Obi Mikel can play against Algeria but that he must return to Oslo by Wednesday.

Mikel, at the centre of a transfer dispute between English clubs Manchester United and Chelsea, had been ordered by FIFA to return to Lyn to continue his career, but had failed to comply.