22 June 2014

Nigeria: Odemwingie Ends 16-Year Wait for Super Eagles

Photo: Gavin Barker/BackpagePix
Nigeria's Ahmed Musa provided striker Emmanuel Emenike with a low ball to score, but the goal was disallowed after an offside call which gave the Super Eagles cause to feel aggrieved.

Nigeria have taken a giant step towards the second round of the World Cup after Peter Odemwingie scored in the first half to give them a 1-0 win over Bosnia-Herzegovina in their Group F clash in Cuiabá.

The Super Eagles will advance to the knockout stages if they get a point in their final pool match against Argentina, or if Iran fail to get all three against the Bosnians.

Odemwingie, heavily criticized by coach Stephen Keshi following the 0-0 draw with Iran in Nigeria's opener where he had appeared as a substitute, was restored to the starting line-up and struck to give the side their first finals win since 1998.

The victory came with a touch of good fortune - Bosnia-Herzegovina had a goal disallowed just before Nigeria scored, but that will matter little to jubilant Super Eagles fans.

Nigeria started the brighter and should have been in front earlier but for wastefulness in front of goal from John Mikel Obi and Michael Babatunde in particular.

Bosnia-Herzegovina thought they were ahead when Eden Dzeko netted, but the goal was incorrectly ruled out for offside.

Nigeria piled on the misery with the opener soon afterwards, which had much to do with the industry of Emmanuel Emenike - he beat one defender and picked out a pass for Odemwingie, who powered the ball between the legs of his clubmate at Stoke City, Bosnia goalkeeper Asmir Begovic.

The score remained 1-0 at halftime and it was Nigeria who looked the more likely early in the second period as Babatunde and Emenike went close but could not beat the keeper.

The Super Eagles held on valiantly to the end but did receive a final piece of luck in injury time at the end of the game when a shot from Dzeko was deflected onto his post by goalkeeper Vincent Enyeama.

The victory capped a fine Saturday for Africa at the World Cup finals after Ghana had earlier held Germany 2-2 in a thrilling encounter that kept alive the prospect of entering the second round and is perhaps a sign of the continent's changing fortunes at the tournament.

Nigeria now look forward to their final group game against Argentina on Wednesday in Porto Alegre at 16h00 GMT. The Bosnians, whose knockout stage chances have gone, will kick-off simultaneously against Iran.

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