Nigeria Versus Greece: Review

H Andel@Gol Iath @gol_iathAnalyst IIIJune 17, 2010

BLOEMFONTEIN, SOUTH AFRICA - JUNE 17:  Vassilis Torosidis of Greece gestures with his leg while players argue with referee Oscar Ruiz as Sani Kaita of Nigeria kneels on the ground after being shown a red card during the 2010 FIFA World Cup South Africa Group B match between Greece and Nigeria at the Free State Stadium on June 17, 2010 in Mangaung/Bloemfontein, South Africa.  (Photo by Ian Walton/Getty Images)
Ian Walton/Getty Images


Nigeria 1, Greece 2


An upset it was in the end if you watched the match as a Nigerian. I do not think it was, really. I had expected Nigeria to start brightly, they however approached the game in the same manner they did against Argentina: lackadaisical in approach as though nothing was at stake. They got a lucky goal at the 16th minute through a spot kick by Kalu Uche, but it was a lead I didn't think would hold because of the absence of energy from the Nigerians.


I suspect people will point to the send off of Sani Kaita in the 33rd minute as the turning point of the game, which is probably true, but the Nigeria I saw from the opening whistle was not a team that I thought had anything to show in the competition. Their most ardent fans will still be hoping for the team's progress to the round of sixteenth if they are able to beat South Korea in their final group match on Tuesday. Nothing that I have seen in their two games so far points to this outcome.


In their match against Argentina, Nigeria played a peculiar defensive style in which they marked spaces rather than players. Peculiar because almost without fail the four midfielders preferred to bunch up in the second quarter of their own halve, allowing the Argentineans all the room they needed to think on the ball and execute their shots and passes. It was a similar case today. This led to the two goals Greece scored. True, the first goal was a deflection and the second a rebound, but in both cases, had the Super Eagles put pressure on the Greek, the shots that resulted into goals might not have been taken. Despite being brilliant in goal and making excellent saves as in the first match against Argentina, the one rebound from his save that led to the second goal is always going to be blamed on goalkeeper Vincent Enyeama. Otherwise, without doubt, it was again a man-of-the-match performance for him.


Greece were not fantastic, but their one man advantage for most of the match and Nigeria's reluctance to challenge players for the ball was enough to give them an edge; they got their equalizer through Dimitrios Salpingidis in 44th minute and the winner in the  71st minute through Vasileios Torosidis. All Greece need to do now to qualify for the second round is to avoid a heavy defeat from Argentina and hope for a Nigerian victory over South Korea by a single goal.


With this scrappy style of play, it is best at this point for Nigeria to be knocked out of the competition; they will only create heartache for their fans if they progress in the competition. Now Cote d'Ivoire and Ghana remain the two beacons of hope for Africa. It is turning out to be a dismal tournament for Africa, a tournament they had touted as holding a home advantage for them. Cote d’Ivoire would need a stellar performance against Brazil to progress and Ghana might just be the wild card for Africa.