The Super Eagles continued its buildup for the 2013 Africa Cup of Nations in South Africa later this month with an amazing display of attacking football to overwhelm Dutch side, Sparta Rotterdam 1-0, in Faro, Portugal on Saturday afternoon.
The game which was played at the Browns Sports and Leisure Club, where the Eagles are presently camped ahead of the Afcon started on a cautious not for both sides, but it was the Eagles which featured skipper Joseph Yobo pairing youthful Kenneth Omeruo, who was impressive in the heart of the defence, that seized the initiatives just five minutes into the encounter.
A combination of Efe Ambrose and Ahmed Musa found Nosa Igiebor at the edge of the box, but he blasted wide. In the 10th minute, Mikel Obi combined beautifully with Igiebor to free Emenike, but his shot was again wasted. Mikel again did a yeoman’s job in the 14th minute to send Emenike clear and he promptly tucked the ball into the net but Dutch referee for the game Wim Bronsvoort ruled it offside.
From then on it was one way traffic as the Eagles seized control of the game but Igiebor, Moses, Emenike and Musa somehow managed not to score and the half thus ended goalless, to the chagrin of Stephen Keshi, who thought his wards should have at least been two goals up by then.
The Eagles continued from where they stopped in the second stanza and in the 55thminute, Ambrose Efe combined beautifully with Musa, who dribbled his way into the vital area before laying the ball for bulky Emenike to riffle home for what turned out the only goal of the encounter.
After the goal Keshi made eight changes to his team with Ejike Uzoenyi coming in for Victor Moses, Gabriel Reuben for Mikel, Ike Uche for Emenike, Sunday Mba for Nosa Igiebor, Brown Ideye for Musa, Ogenyi Onazi for Yobo, Nwankwo Obiorah for Ogude Fegor and goalkeeper Chigozie Agbim for Vincent Enyeama.
The Dutch side did threaten a couple of times through dangerman, Donovan Deekman spotting number 11 jersey, but it was dealt by Enyeama and later by Agbim. Infact, they took only one straight shot at goal that was easily pick up by Enyeama at the start of the second half.
The Eagles continued their dominant play even with the changes but Ideye, Uche, Reuben and Mba failed to increase the tally, to keep the scoreline at only 1-0, after 90minutes.
Rotterdam coach, Michel Vonk, said he was delighted with the robust, attacking play of the Eagles, adding that if they keep it up they will go far at the Nations Cup. “Your team play physical and quick and at times they slow it down and before you know it they are all over you. I told my players that is what to expect and we were not disappointed. Their quality is very good”, he said.
The coach singled out Mikel Obi and Kenneth Omeruo for special mention. “Your number 10 (Mikel), is very good, creative and has good vision, then Omeruo, very good aerially and gives good cover to the keeper. Your team wasted a lot of chances, they must learn to take them at the Nations Cup and I wish them good luck,” he concluded.
Nigeria will begin their Afcon 2013 campaign with a match against Zambia on January 21 in Nelspruit.