The third and final game of the day saw group F opponents Nigeria and Bosnia & Herzegovina face off in Cuiaba. Following a 0-0 draw in their opening game against Iran, Stephen Keshi faced a lot of criticism from the Nigerian fans, so for them this a must win. Also a must win for the Bosnian’s who performed admirably against Argentina in their first game, but came out with nothing to show for it, and following the Argentinian’s beating Iran earlier on in the day, a Nigerian win would sent Bosnia and Herzegovina home from their first ever World Cup in the earliest possible stage.
The game began very slowly, with the Nigerians having the better of the first half. The Bosnian’s looked weak, with the midfield offering very little protection for the defence who sat very deep, inviting pressure on. The deep line limited Nigeria to plenty of long range shots, testing Stoke keeper Asmir Begovic to the max, but Begovic wasn’t the Stoke man to take the first half winnings. On the half hour mark, Emmanuel Emenike; no stranger to players of FIFA games, powered his way past Bosnian captain Emir Spahic before driving his way into the box. Usually one to keep his head down and shoot, I was surprised to see him pick his head and lay the ball back to Stoke striker Peter Odemwingie to fire past his club mate to put the Super Eagles 1-0 up. The Bosnian’s were hard done by though, having a perfectly good Edin Dzeko goal ruled out for offside, when replays showed the Manchester City forward was quite clearly onside. Apart from this, Bosnia had very few chances throughout the 90 minutes, despite their 20 shots, many of them came from distance, with the Nigerian defence proving very resolute, keeping a second clean sheets in their opening two games. That one goal proved enough to win the game in the end. Tired legs got the better of Bosnia during the second half, and the fitter, more acclimatised Nigerian’s to see the game out. Thus, Bosnia were eliminated from the World Cup with one game still to play in the group stages.
Vincent Enyeama – 7 – Very little to do despite the shot stats, but dealt with everything thrown at him with relative ease.
Juwon Oshaniwa – 5 – Literally did nothing
Joseph Yobo – 6 – When Omeruo wasn’t there to stop Dzeko, you bet your life savings Yobo was
Efe Ambrose – 6 – Dealt with almost everything thrown his way, especially in the second half
Kenneth Omeruo – 7 – Had Edin Dzeko in his back pocket all evening
Michel Babatunde – 6 – Strong first half causing the Bosnian’s a few problems before going off injured
Ogenyi Onazi – 7 – Very energetic, always on the front foot and had some decent efforts on goal
John Obi Mikel – 6 – Good work rate in front of the back four, but didn’t get involved offensively as much as he would have liked
Ahmed Musa – 7 – A very strong first half but tired himself out by 60 minutes, stopped him scoring higher
Peter Odemwingie – 7 – As ever, a nuisance to the defence, and the scorer of the winning goal
Emmanuel Emenike – 8 – The real powerhouse in the Nigerian side, always on the front foot and put Spahic under constant pressure
Ejike Uzoenyi – 5 – Didn’t get enough time to make an impact on the game but worked hard
Shola Ameobi – 5 – Very little contribution coming on late in the day
Bosnia & Herzegovina
Asmir Begovic – 7 – Dealt with a lot to keep the score down, a top goalkeeping performance all evening
Mensur Mujdza – 6 – Had little to deal with but solid and effective throughout
Muhamed Besic – 7 – Tough tackler attracting European attention, Besic never shied away from a challenge
Emir Spahic – 4 – Very poor night for the captain, poor passes, weak for the goal, slow, sluggish, too far apart from centre back, very poor.
Toni Sunjic – 5 – Found the pacey Nigerians hard to deal with
Miralem Pjanic – 7 – excellent first half, a split second ahead of the other Bosnian’s
Izet Hajrovic – 7 – Bosnia’s most potent threat throughout, always on the front foot
Zvjezdan Misimovic – 6 – Always there but lacked quality when he got on the ball
Haris Medunjanin – 5 – Didn’t really get involved in the game and was taken off for that reason
Senad Lulic – 4 – A rough night playing further back than normal, no surprise to see him taken off
Edin Dzeko – 6 – Missed a handful of chances, but was very isolated throughout
Tino-Sven Susic – 5 – Strong first 10 minutes off the bench but then vanished
Sejad Salihovic – 4 – Never really got into the game
Vedad Ibisevic – 5 – Missed a sitter but had no service when he came on
Man of the Match
The stand out man in the Nigerian side, Emenike showed all the strength, pace and power that every FIFA 12 player abused so much. Having seen him play before, Emenike is usually a very selfish player but last night, he was very different. His first move always was to get his head up and look for a player in a better position, usually Odemwingie, but he was always looking. He also played very intelligently, seeing that Spahic was a lot slower and having a poor game, and tried to exploit that as much as he possibly good. A good all round performance, and only a goal would’ve made it better.