23rd June, 2010
There was a dressing room show of shame in the Super Eagles camp last night when they crashed out of the 2010 FIFA World Cup in South Africa.
The team needed to beat their South Korean opponents and had prayed that Argentina defeat Greece in their last group match yesterday. Argentina lived up to expectations by beating Greece 2-0, but the Nigerian team failed woefully as they were held to a 2-2 by the highly determined Koreans.
Shortly after the match, most the younger players wept profusely, while the older ones like captain Nwankwo Kanu and his assistant, Joseph Yobo consoled them.
When P.M.Sports confronted Yobo and asked why the players wept when they knew that they were the ones that played themselves out of the World Cup, the Everton of England defender replied: â€œWe are to blame for this early exit from the World Cup. Itâ€™s true that we played ourselves out of the championship. What we played against the Koreans and most of the misses were not good for us. Itâ€™s rather unfortunate that the World Cup party is finally over for us.â€
The Nigerian teamÂ were ahead on 12 minutes when Chidi Odiahâ€™s brilliant run down the right from the fullback position saw him cross low and striker Kalu Uche turned the ball home from just outside the six-yard box.
Uche put a 35-yard free kick over the crossbar, while Chinedu Obasi fired wide when well placed. Obasi then showed a lovely piece of skill on the edge of the box to work some space for himself, but his shot was scuffed and easy for Korean keeper Jung Sung Ryong.
Uche was a whisker away from making it 2-0 as his shot from 25 yards beat Sung Ryong, but bounced off the post and away to safety.
Then terrible defending of a free kick on 38 minutes allowed Lee Jung Soo to steal in and pushed the ball home, even though he initially tried to use his head.
That was the way it stayed at half time but disaster struck Nigeria early in the second half. Danny Shittu gave away a free kick on the edge of the area and Park Chu Young curled his effort into the far corner. Goalkeeper Vincent Enyeama has to shoulder some of the blame for the goal â€”he was not expected to have been beaten by that shot.
The Super Eagles suddenly had a mountain to climb.
Chu Young flashed another effort wide of the goal from much further out, while Yakubu should have played in substitute Wolfsburg of Germanyâ€™s Obafemi Martins when well placed, but instead decided to go it alone and the chance was lost.
Enyeama had to be smart to save from Chu Young, before Yakubu put his name down for one of the great misses in football history.
He stood all alone in the six-yard box with no Korean player around him, and all he had to do was side-foot the ball home from three yards. Somehow he missed.
But the Eagles did get a penalty seconds later when Kim Nam Il felled Obasi in the penalty area and Yakubu made amends, somewhat, by slotting it home.
Shittu was close to turning the ball into his own net as the Koreans launched a rasping attacking down the right, and soon afterwards Park Ji Sung shot into the side, netting from close range.
By now the news had filtered through that Argentina were ahead in Polokwane, meaning a win for Nigeria would see them into the second round.
Martins was brilliantly put through on goal, but facing just the keeper scooped his effort wide off the mark, much to the disgust of Nigeriaâ€™s bench.
Victor Obinna twice fired inches wide in the dying minutes, but that was as close as the west Africans got to a winner.