FIFA Beach Soccer World Cup
By Duro Ikhazuagbe with agency report
Nigeria’s Super Sand Eagles have the chance of progressing to the quarterfinal stage of the ongoing FIFA Beach Soccer World Cup in Nassau, Bahamas early hours of tomorrow morning if they are able to overcome the challenge posed by Iran.
The game is schedule for Tuesday 2.30am (Nigerian time) at the National Beach Soccer Arena in Nassau.
Both teams have only won one game each. They both lost a game to make today’s clash a winner-takes-it-all.
After Eagles lost their opening game to Italy, last Saturday’s 3-2 victory over Mexico brought them back to life with the hope of progressing to the knock out phase. That lifeline will be meaningless if they are unable to build on with victory against the Iranians.
Iran began their campaign at this edition on a bright note snatching a nail-biting 3-2 victory against the Mexicans but failed to build on it in their next game as they lost their second game 5-4 to Italy.
After conceding 12 goals against Italy on Thursday, Nigeria Head Coach Audu Adamu made two changes for the Saturday clash. Emeka Ogbonna and Ogbonnaya Okemmiri started this time.
The Mexican trainer Ramon Raya opted to stick with the startlist that lost 2-3 to Iran.
Mexico led the first period through Abdiel Villa’s strike with Carlos Rodriquez’s effort brilliantly kept out by Sand Eagles stopper Danjuma Paul.
Nigeria had scant opportunities at goal in the first period. Isiaka Olawale’s free kick was well-saved by Mexico goalkeeper Diego Villasenor while Ogodo’s attempt in the last seconds of the opening period was kept out by Villasenor.
Ogodo’s two early attempts in the second period could not level matters for Nigeria though he was unfortunate to see the second, an overhead kick, graze the crossbar.
Nigeria goalkeeper Paul was magnificent. He stopped Rodriguez’s expertly taken attempt but the Mexican returned moments later to double his team’s lead.
Ogbonna fired Nigeria back into the contest immediately after Mexico’s second goal but Ramon Maldonado restored Mexico’s two-goal lead from the spot.
Abu Azeez then scored with four minutes left in the second period with a controlled shot into the top corner to trim Mexico’s lead to one. Three minutes to wrap up the second period Abu could not get on the end of Ogodo’s pass to tuck the ball into an unguarded net to make the score 3-3.
The third period dragged on for longer spells without goals. Two minutes to the end, Victor Tale smashed in a free kick after Benjamin Mosco handled the ball near his goal. Tale’s goal sent the game into extra time which meant either Mexico or Nigeria would only get two points from the game.
Akwa United’s Godspower Igudia gave Nigeria the lead in the game for the first with a well struck effort in extra time. The Mexicans responded and Ikechukwu Ibenegbu had to throw himself at Maldonado’s attempt to clear off the line.
With 29 seconds left in extra time, Mosco levelled the score at 4-4.
Right at the death – two second left on the clock – Abu toed Ibenegbu’s pass at goal and the ball came off the inside the post and nestled in the net for a dramatic winner.
It was Nigeria’s first win at the FIFA Beach World Cup since September 2011.