12th June, 2010
Nigeriaâ€™s Super Eagles this evening proved bookmakers of the FIFA World Cup wrong as they lost by a narrow margin to Olympics champions, Argentina at the Ellis Park stadium, Johannesburg.
Gabriel Heinze scored the crucial goal when he headed home a corner kick perfectly taken by veteran Sebastian veron in the seventh minute. The third match of South Africa 2010 World Cup lived up to expectation despite the Nigerian team losing 0-1 to the Argentines, who were tipped by football pundits to whitewash the Eagles.
Althouth, the Eagles have their stars to thank for an evening that Lionel Messi was on goals holiday. The Argentine soccer prodigy could have increased the tally for his star-studded squad but missed well over seven goal scoring opportunities.
The World Cup Group B encounter saw Messi tearing apart the Eagles’ defence at will, but the Barcelona youngster failed to beat goalkeeper Vincent Enyeama, who worked so hard to win the Man Of The Match Award.
Messi failed to score against the determined Eagles, who walked out of the stadium with their heads held high. Argentina played their usual aggressive game with Jonas Gutierrez doing his dangerous attacking moves from the right back position.
While he was terrorising the Eagles’ defence from the right, his teammate and former defender of Manchester United, Heinze also gave the Nigerians a tough time, overlapping through the other wing from his left back position.
The Eagles, led by Joseph Yobo however refused to give in to the fluid play of their Argentine opponents. The Messi-inspired team had the first half under control and also dominated play for about 25 minutes of the second stanza before Coach Lars Lagerback changed the game with his substitutes.
Man City’s Carlos Tevez and Gonzalo Higuain had their share of the period that Argentina tormented the Eagles but the introduction of Obafemi Akinwunmi
Martins, Osaze Odemwingie and Uche Kalu brought some cheers as the fans were engrossed in wild applause with the Vuvuzela living up to its name.
Chinedu Obasi ogbuke played some pranks with the ball on two or three occasions, creating near chances that beat goalkeeper Sergio Romero but the effort did not hit target, his shots went wide.
Veron brought his experience to bear to ensure that Argentina maintained a solid midfield play and severally pushed his men upfront but their goal bound moves hit the rock in Enyeama.
Obinna Nsofor tried and got a close chance that could have given the Eagles an equaliser, but Samuel Walter denied him that golden chance. Yakubu Aiyegbeni.
Another effort, which could have seen Nigeria level score ended in a near tragedy for Taiye Taiwo, who pulled his ancle while trying to play a blind shot to their opponents. Taiwo limped out of the encounter but the level of his injury was not known as at press time.
Lukman Haruna and other players tried pushing the Argentines back to their area, but the vociferous Alberceties did not stop their invasion of Nigeria’s rear.
Thus, the exciting but explosive tie entered the crucial period with tension gripping the technical crew of both teams till the end.
Lagerback said he was glad with the performance of the Eagles, whom he claimed are getting better everyday. Coach Diego Maradona though left the stadium a bit disappointed due to the goals they missed, but he took consolidation in the fact that Argentina won the match.
From Tunde Oyedele, Joâ€™Burg
2010 World Cup