Posted by News Express | 8 June 2014 | 4,838 times
African champions, Nigeria, will head into the Fifa World Cup in Brazil with a loss in their last warm-up match against the United States.
The Super Eagles suffered a 1-2 loss to the Americans at the Everbank Field in Jacksonville, Florida early this morning.
The Super Eagles had earlier posted unconvincing draws in their two previous pre-World Cup friendly matches, ending it 2-2 against Scotland penultimate Wednesday in London and goalless against Greece last Wednesday in Philadelphia, USA.
Nigeria head coach, Stephen Keshi started with two changes from the game against Greece in his team’s defence with Joseph Yobo and Juwon Oshaniwa filling in for injured duo of Kenneth Omeruo and Elderson Echiejile, who has now been ruled out of the World Cup.
The African champions created the first attacking threat when John Obi Mikel’s long ball over the top was picked up by Shola Ameobi, whose attempt to pass to Osaze Odemwingie was cleared.
Six minutes into the match, Victor Moses slipped a pass to Ameobi, who toe-poked off target though under pressure.
The Nigerian midfield in spite of their large share of possession was caught often on the ball with Michael Bradley in the thick of things for the USA.
The Americans took the lead on 32 minutes when Fabian Johnson played the ball across Nigeria’s goal and Jozy Altidore tapped into an open net from three yards with goalkeeper Vincent Enyeama well out of position.
Keshi’s men sprang to life, with Efe Ambrose getting close to levelling the score with a header from a corner just before the break. He was, however, foiled by USA goalkeeper Tim Howard, who was making his 100th appearance, 12 years after his debut. Howard saved after the ball bubbled a bit in his hands.
Mikel and Odemwingie made way for Gabriel Reuben and Michael Babatunde respectively before the restart.
In the 64th minute, Enyeama made a big save from Clint Dempsey’s low shoot from close range after he had cut inside of Yobo.
Four minutes later, Altidore scored again as he controlled Bradley’s long ball over Nigeria’s defence and held off Yobo to shoot past Enyeama.
The African champions were on the back foot for several minutes characterised by a handful of misplaced passes and loss of possession.
On 81 minutes, Emmanuel Emenike, who had come on for Ameobi, could only shoot low and straight at Howard after being slipped through on goal by Reuben in what represented Nigeria’s best chance of the half.
But five minutes to the end, Moses won Nigeria a spot kick after Matt Besler fouled him in the box.
A minute later, the Chelsea man stepped up and scored from 12 yards as that was all Nigeria could offer.
The Americans head off to the World Cup with a win while Nigeria will have to deliberate on a tepid performance as they prepare for their first game against Iran on June 16.
•Text adapted from a Supersport report.
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