By Robbie Blakeley, Senior Contributing Reporter
RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL – Nigeria beat Bosnia 1-0 last night (June 21st) at the Arena Pantanal to give themselves a real chance of qualifying for the final sixteen of the FIFA World Cup. After successive defeats, Bosnia have been eliminated before their final group game against Iran.
The result was Nigeria’s first win in World Cup competition in nine matches, a run of matches that stretches back to the 1998 edition in France. A draw against Argentina next week will be enough to secure their passage into the knock-out rounds.
In two games, Nigeria have not conceded a goal, although Bosnian striker Edin Dzeko had a goal wrongfully ruled out yesterday. Over 40,000 fans were inside the stadium to see a close contest. Nigeria went on the attack from the off, with coach Stephen Keshi selecting four forwards for the game.
Meanwhile, captain Joseph Yobo man marked Dzeko and managed, for the whole, to keep the Manchester City forward quiet. Yet it was the Africans who had the best of the chances and deservedly went ahead on 29 minutes. Springing a counter-attack, Emmanuel Emminike found space down the right flank.
Beating defender Spahic, he sent across a low cross for Peter Odemwingie to sweep home the only goal of the game. Bosnia complained vociferously about a suspected foul on Spahic, but the goal stood and Nigeria went in a goal to the good at half-time.
With elimination close, Bosnia started the second half on the front foot. Coach Susic sent on one more forward in Ibisevic. Howerver the wide open spaces left in the midfield gave Nigeria ample opportunity to launch counter-attacks. Yobo in particular had a heroic game for the Africans, securing the result, the points, and hope for the final group game.
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