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Nigeria 1-0 Bosnia: Nigeria outwit Bosnia to all but assure a last 16 place
Both sides made changes from their opening group matches; Nigeria making three changes with Odemwingie, Babatunde and Yobo starting in place of Oboabona (injury), Azeez and Victor Moses. Bosnia altered their defence; introducing Sunjic and Medunjanin for Bickacic and, own-goal scorer, Kolasinac [against Argentina].
Nigeria predictably excelled on the counter attack and scored the all important goal in a fascinating first half through Peter Odemwingie.
Nigeria: Enyeama- Ambrose, Yobo, Omeruo, Oshaniwa- Mikel, Onazi, Babatunde- Odemwingie, Emenike, Musa.
Bosnia & Herzegovina: Begovic- Mujdza, Spahic, Sunjic, Medunjanin, Besic, Pjanic, Hajrovic, Misimovic, Lulic, Dzeko.
The match was always going to be interesting in the fact that it pit a narrow offensive side against a counter attacking team with lots of pacy wide men. It did not disappoint. Nigeria got off the blocks quicker and their aggressive pressing won them the ball in dangerous areas early on; the offensive trio of Odemwingie, Musa and Emenike being particularly irrepressible with Emenike especially giving Spahic a torrid night.
The highlight of this opening session was Ahmed Musa being brought down as he broke clear.The tempo cooled down as Nigeria’s hopes for an early goal bore no fruit, allowing Bosnia to take a hold of the game. Bosnia’s midfield passing proving a handful for Nigeria and should have taken the lead through Dzeko but for a wrong offside call.
A repeating theme for Bosnia was their passes getting intercepted easily and they were duly punished for it. The ball was won in the midfield and immediately played to Emenike, who outmuscled Spahic on the right, before laying it into Odemwingie’s path for an easy finish. Nigeria then held their own to go into the break with the lead.
The second period lacked the zest of the first half as Nigeria looked to protect their lead against an unimaginative Bosnian side. Even though they made early changes, the tactical switch being Ibisevic (striker) for Hajrovic (winger), Bosnia never really troubled the Super Eagles as their lack of width made it all too easy.
This was compounded with Ambrose, a central defender by trade, making occasional runs on the flanks. Chances grew fewer and far between until, momentarily, Nigeria took advantage of their numerical upper-hand in midfield to launch some attacks.
The game wore down in attacking excitement until the closing stages as Bosnia desperately tried to save their world cup dreams. And it almost counted as Edin Dzeko came agonizingly close to an equalizer; Enyeama parrying away his effort to the side bar to knockout Bosnia. Nigeria, on the other hand, close in on an African record of three last 16 appearances.