Thursday, June 2, 2011


Ik Uche celebrates a goal (Picture courtesy Supersport)

It was a perfect night for coach Samson Siasia as a brace from Ikechukwu Uche and a goal apiece from Obinna Nsofor and Emmanuel Emenike gave the Super Eagles of Nigeria a well-deserved 4-1 victory over Argentina in a friendly match played at the National Stadium, Abuja on Wednesday night.

Truth be told. This was a second string Sergio Batista-led Argentine side severely weakened by the absence of star players such as FIFA World Player of the Year Lionel Messi, Javier Mascehrano, Carlos Tevez, Gonzalo Higuan, Angel Di Maria and Sergio Aguero. Asides, the team, labelled an ‘Under 25’, paraded only two players who were named in the provisional 24-man squad for the Copa America Nations Cup.

Nevertheless, Siasia’s finest moment yet could not be denied him as he had suffered three defeats in the hands of Argentine sides in the past; one as an ex-Eagles player at the USA 1994 World Cup and two as coach of the Junior Eagles at the finals of the 2005 FIFA U-20 World Cup and 2008 Beijing Olympics.

The perfect night for Siasia and his team started in the 11th minute with a poacher’s goal by Ik Uche. It followed a clever work down the left flank by the continually impressive Joel Obi and then a goal mouth scramble which saw an Argentine defender deflecting the ball into his own net from Uche’s shot.

Five minutes later, newly signed AC Milan player Taye Taiwo released a cannon that sailed a few inches wide over the bar. It was a shot of things to come as the Eagles ran riot over the Argentines who played well below their pedigree as two-time World Cup Champions. While the two Obis – Joel and Mikel controlled the midfield with good rhythms, although sometimes guilty of playing too deep, the three-pronged attack of Uche, Victor Anichebe and Obinna Nsofor peppered the South American defence line marshalled by Manchester City Pablo Zabaleta. A clever lob from Joel Obi at the near post almost made it two for Nigeria, only for Argentine Goalkeeper Gabbarini Adrian to parry it off the crossbar at the 20th minute. In the 27th minute, Nigerien referee Ibrahim Chaibou awarded the Eagles a controversial penalty after Anichebe was adjudged to have been brought down in the box. Nsofor coolly slotted home the spot kick to send the spectators in the half filled stadium into raptures.

Just after the half-hour mark, Anichebe wiggled his way past an Argentine defender and placed a low drive which produced another save from Gabbarini; whose Nigerian counterpart, Vincent Enyeama barely had anything to do at this juncture.

Man of the Match Uche headed home his second goal of the evening and seventh since his return from injury in the 40th minute after a counter attacking move from the Eagles climaxed with a perfect cross from Taye Taiwo. For fans just rushing into the stadium, it looked as if the 3-0 reflected on the scoreboard was an error. The Argentines were completely rattled as Batista stood helpless on the touchline.

At the start of the second half, Siasia had the luxury to bring in Dele Aiyenugba for Enyeama who seemed to be getting bored form just watching the proceedings. The Eagles rout finished off in the 53rd minute when substitute and Turkey-based Emmanuel Emenike, scored with a clever lob over the stranded Gabbarini. Although the Argentine grabbed a consolation goal through Mauro Boselli deep into injury time, the Eagles were worthy winners of a famous victory over Batista’s men.

”The name ‘Super Chickens’ is dead now. We are the Super Eagles,” said Siasia, after the match. While Batista conceded that they were beaten by a very good team. It was also a good morale boosting victory for the Eagles who face Ethiopia in an Africa Cup of Nations qualifier in Addis Ababa on Sunday. “If we don’t win against Ethiopia, this (victory over Argentina) would count for nothing,” Siasia stated. He had promised an entertaining match with lots of goals and he delivered. Hopefully, he would produce more of the same come Sunday.

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