Posted by News Express | 1 June 2013 | 3,530 times
Two days after Nigeria’s Under-21 soccer team, the Flying Eagles, suffered a 2-0 defeat by their Mexican counterparts at the Toulon Tournament in France, the senior side, the Super Eagles, came close to beating Mexico’s senior side in a pulsating friendly match played this morning in the United States of America.
The champions clash (Nigeria being the reigning African champions and Mexico champions of South America) was watched by over 62,000 fans who thronged the Reliant Stadium in Houston, Texas.
Both teams gave a good account of themselves, but like it was in their last meeting six years ago, parted with no on level terms after a brace by Javier Hernandez a.k.a Chicharito ensured that the game ended 2-2. The grade A friendly arranged to prepare both teams for this month’s FIFA Confederations Cup in Brazil, kicked off 2am, which is 8pm on Friday in Houston.
Nigeria played without several unavailable key players such as John Mikel Obi, Victor Moses and Emmanuel Emenike while Coach Stephen Keshi chose to bench first goalie Vincent Enyeama and start Austin Ejide.
Portugal-based John Ogu, who managed only seven minutes on his Eagles debut against Kenya in Calabar on March 23, got his first start for the Eagles, partnering Nnamdi Oduamadi, who rescued Nigeria with a late goal in the Calabar World Cup qualifier against Kenya. Midfielder Ogu, who plies his trade with Academica de Coimbra in Portugal, made the most of the opportunity, even scoring Nigeria’s second goal. That was in addition to setting up Brown Ideye, who found the back of the net 17th minute, only for the effort to be ruled offside.
The first 20 minutes saw the Eagles being outplayed by the Mexicans led by deadly striker Chicharito of Manchester United of England fame. Exploiting shoddy defending by Godfrey Oboabona and Kenneth Omeruo, Chicharito beat Ejide for the opener in the 21st minute after being fed by Pablo Barrera.
Barrera however turned villain when he was dismissed for blocking Elderson Echiejile’s goal-bound shot, an action which also attracted a penalty perfectly tucked in by Ideye in the 29th minute.
Ogu made it 2-1 for Nigeria when his 20-yard left-footed shot was deflected into the net in the 40th minute by Torrado but Chicharito ensured that spoils were shared, tapping in from close range in the 70th minute.
•Photo, courtesy Getty Images, shows Ideye holding off Mexican challengers during the match . . . this morning in Houston, USA.
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