Nigeria arrived Brazil with mixed feelings after losing Uwa Echiejile to injury and having to recall home-based Ejike Uzoenyi.
The Rangers player who was voted MVP at the 2014 CHAN competition in South Africa had been left out of the team but fate had him in. The Eagles were left with just Juwon Oshaniwa as a left back and he has not disappointed.
Still basking in the controversy of the final 23 man list, the fans gave Stephen Keshi little faith especially after leaving out Sunday Mba, the midfielder that scored the winning goal at the 2013 AFCON in South Africa.
But the boss held his ground, and was poised to justify his selection.
Match 1: Nigeria 0-0 Iran.
Line up: Enyeama, Oshaniwa, Ambrose, Emeruo, Obaobuna (Yobo 29′), Mikel, Onazi, Moses (Ameobi 52′), Musa, Azeez (Odemingwe 69′), Emenike
Every Tom, Dick and Harry in the West African nation of Nigeria expected a win over Iran but the Asians put up a dogged defense to deny Nigeria from grabbing a goal.
Tagged as a boring game, the match became the first goalless match and first draw of the tournament.
After the game, the backlash was much. Only few had hopes and they were vindicated against Bosnia.
High: Enyeama, Oshianiwa, Odemwingie. Low: Moses
Match 2: Nigeria 1-0 Bosnia and Herzegovina
Line up: Enyeama, Yobo, Emeruo, Oshinawa, Ambrose, Mikel, Onazi, Musa (Ameobi 65′), Odemingwe, Babatunde (Uzoenyi 75′), Emenike
The Super Eagles put up a better display against the debuting Europeans with a lone goal from Osaze Odemwingie (27th minute). Bulky striker, Emmanuel Emenike bullied his way through the Bosnian defense before he squared on to Odemwingie who scored creating a record as the 1st Stoke City player to score at a Worldcup.
The Eagles had chances to finish off the Europeans but they switched off and seemed content with the lone first half goal. They nearly paid for their lacaisidcal attitude as Enyeama saved Dzeko’s last-minute shot to give the Eagles 3pts.
MotM: Osaze Odemwingie.
High: Enyeama, Emenike, Babatunde
Match 3: Argentina 2-3 Nigeria.
Line up: Enyeama, Yobo, Emeruo, Oshinawa, Ambrose, Mikel, Onazi, Babatunde (Uchebo 66′), Musa, Odemingwe (Nwofor 80′), Emenike.
Lionel Messi stunned the Super Eagles with a 4th minute strike, the 1st that the AFCON champions will concede in Brazil. But the South Americans were more stunned 80 seconds later. Ahmed Musa scored a peach of a goal to draw level.
Enyeama continued to pull saves upon saves but his wrong position gave Messi the chance to go ahead just before the break from a free kick.
Ahmed Musa came out smoking as he drew Nigeria back into the game after 2 minutes of restart. His pace was timely as he collected a sublime pass from Emenike to score his brace, becoming the first Nigerian to score a brace in the Worldcup.
The Eagles went on to concede from a corner kick. The game ended 3-2 with both teams qualifying for the next round.
MotM: Ahmed Musa
High: Emenike, Odemwingie, Babatunde, Enyeama, Oshianiwa. Low: Mikel
So the Eagles became the first African side to reach 3 knockout stages of the Worldcup. They were joined by Algeria after Cote D’Ivoire disappointing 2-1 loss to Greece. Cameroun and Ghana were also knocked.
Finishing second, Nigeria will face France on Monday. Will they qualify? Will Yobo and Emeruo shut Benzema up? Will Mikel continue his slow motion football? Will Musa replicate his Argentine spirit? Will Emenike grab his first goal? Will….
3 games played, 3 games scored, lets face the Blues from Europe.
Go Super Eagles.
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