Tall order for Nigeria

world_cup_soccerballsJOHANNESBURG Nigeria head off next to face Greece in their second Group B fixture, at the Free State Stadium in Bloemfontein Thursday, knowing that a tall order awaits them in their quest for survival in this years World Cup

The Super Eagles became the first African side to be beaten at this years edition of the worlds biggest soccer fair, when they succumbed to a 1-0 loss to Argentina, Gabriel Heinze scoring that solitary goal.

The Super Eagles could have been thrashed had Argentina been as accurate in converting chances as they had been in creating them, but Vincent Enyeama the Nigerian goalkeeper, came up with six acrobatic save in total to keep the scoreline respectable.

For their part, Nigeria had long but sterile dominance in the first half, their strikers being their weakest link.

Argentina began like a house on fire, their star player, Lionel Messi taking advantage of a seemingly jaded Nigerian team to make a number of forays into the Super Eagles danger zone.

Barely five minutes into the game, the talismanic Barcelona forward waltzed his way past three Nigerian players in the middle of the park, before releasing Gonzalo Higuan, who however, missed a glorious chance from six yards out.

Messi came close again a few seconds later, but Nigerian goalkeeper, Vincent Enyeama voted Man of The Match, proved equal to the task, pulling off a stunning save to push the ball out for a corner kick. With the way they were attacking, it was just a matter for time before Diego Maradonas side got off the woods and they did that in the sixth minute, Gabriel Heinze powering a header home, after sprinting from his marker to come to the end of a Juan Sebastian Veron corner kick.

Enyeama was given no chance this time, as the ball hit his top right corner to send Maradona into a frenzy on the touchline.

Reigning world footballer of the year, Messi, returned to haunt the Super Eagles again in the seventh minute, his shot going narrowly wide from the edge of the box.

It was largely Enyeama against Messi and his fellow Argentinian strikers for the rest of the first half, the Nigerian keeper denying Messi three times Higuan and Carlos Tevez before the interval.

Nigeria picked form in the second half, after Lars Lagerback had pulled out Victor Obinna for Obafemi Martins in the 52nd minute and hauled Chinedu Obasi for Peter Odemwingie in the 60th minute.

Odemwingie immediately became the liveliest Nigerian on the field, his skill and pace creating a lot of problems for Gabriel Heinze on the left, but his teammates kept frustrating his efforts by not converting the numerous chances he gave.

Second half substitute, Kalu Uche, watched in disbelief as he spurned Nigerias best chance of the game, swinging the ball over the bar, after he was set up by Odemwingie just outside the box.

On the opposite end of the pitch, Messi kept running rings, twisting and turning the Nigerian defenders as if they were his toys, but failing to rattle the net, so it ended 1-0 in favour of Argentina.

In an earlier match in the same group, South Korea stuneed Greece 2-0 at the Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium in Port Elizabeth, goals by Lee Jung-So and captain Park Jing-Su doing all the damage.

Post published in: Football

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