By IKENNA OKAFOR
Nigeria Super Eagles survived over-choking pressure from Venezuela’s Vino Tintos early this morning to win 3-1 in the international friendly played at Marlins Park, Miami, United States.
Great thanks to early goals in the second half by Brown Ideye and Nosa Igiebor, which gave Nigeria an initial respectable lead before the South Americans fought back gamely to narrow the lead through Frank Fletscher who latched on defensive blunder committed by Godfery Oboaboana in the 70th minute.
But Onazi Ogenyi put in the last goal in the third minute of added time to give Nigeria a flattering 3-1 win.
It could have been a different tale if earlier goals by Venezuela had been upheld. The first was in the 14th minute when the ball hit the back of Nigeria’s net off a header from free kick. But two attackers were offside. But in the second half, another ball found the net when Nigerian had taken the two-goal lead.
But the Venezuela scorer of the goal had handled the ball before firing past Austin Ejide who with Nosa Igiebeor was the hero of Nigeria’s performance.
Great thanks to heroic performance by stand-in captain and goalkeeper, Austin Ejide. He had to make no fewer than six-point blank saves, especially after the Super Eagles’ defence was subjected to constant pressure the moment the Venezuelans pulled a goal back. The defence was under persistent pressure and at a point conceded three corner kicks in a space of two minutes.
But the Super Eagles side was not a complete write-off. Returnee Obafemi Martins tried his pacy game, but seemed faster when he was off the ball. But he proved he was still a force to be reckoned with. He was eventually pulled off in the second half for the controversial Shola Ameobi to make his Nigerian debut.
Thanks to the Newcastle player. He was the architect of Nigeria’s third goal as he completely rounded off a Venezuela defender before laying off a carpet pass for Onazi Ogenyi to finish off in the 93rd minute.
The Super Eagles controlled the midfield in the opening minutes as the trio of Henry Uche, Nosa Igiebor and Ogenyi Onazi exchanged passes with relative ease.
However, the Venezuelans had a different idea that worked out for them as Amorebieta and Rondon terrorised the Eagles from their left side of the midfield thereby exposing the weak and inexperienced Sunshine stars of Akure and Nigeria’s right back, Solomon Kwambe.
Nigeria had the first opportunity to go ahead in the eighth minute but Brown Ideye’s shot sailed across the goalpost after being put through by Nosa Igiebor.
The Vino Tintos of Venezuela responded with a beautiful header off a well-curled free kick in the 14th minute but the goal was ruled out for an offside.
Nigeria’s midfield started to lose possession after Enyimba of Aba’s Henry Uche appeared to have sustained an injury. Coach Stephen Keshi quickly made a substitution by bringing in Adana Demirspor of Turkey’s Raheem Lawal to replace the injured Uche.
On resumption of the second half, the Super Eagles continued to attack and it paid off in the 49th minute when Brown Ideye latched on to a low pull out from the right flank by Kwambe to put Nigeria one goal up.
The second goal came three minutes after when Real Betis of Spain maestro, Nosa Igiebor’s screamer from 30 meters sailed smoothly into the top corner of the Venezuelan’s goalpost.
A schoolboy error by Sunshine Stars of Akure and Nigeria’s defender, Godfrey Oboabona allowed Feltscher of Venezuela to pull a goal back in the 69th minute.
Nosa Igiebor received a yellow card for time wasting when he was replaced by Sunday Mba.
However, there was enough time for SS Lazio of Italy playmaker, Ogenyi Onazi to score Nigeria’s third goal off a beautiful assist from Ameobi in added time.