Thursday, 3 January 2013

Super Eagles Draws Catalona, Lift Trophy

Nigeria’s Super Eagles played 1-1 with Catalonia, that paraded about ten Barcelona stars in a pre-African Cup of Nations international friendly match Wednesday night.

But the Nigerian team emerged winners of the encounter on an away goal rule, and lifted the giant trophy presented by the home football officials.

The encounter, played at Espanyol’s Cornella-El Prat Stadium, saw the Coach Stephen Keshi-led Eagles conceding an early goal through a penalty kick scored by Catalonia skipper, Sergio Gonzalez.

The match was just three minutes into play when a Nigerian player, Fengor Ogude who attempted a header, handled the ball inside the 18 yard box.

 Centre referee, Estranda Fernandez, who was not well positioned to see the foul, bowed to protest from the hosts, and blew for the spot kick.

Gonzalez, who quickly moved forward to take the penalty, perfectly tucked in the ball into the right corner of the net, leaving Eagles’ goalkeeper and captain, Chigozie Agbim to dive the other way.

The tie, which Coach Keshi will use to select the bulk of his squad for the Nations Cup, continued with Catalonia in full control of proceeding, as Barcelona stars; Xavi Hernandex, Carlos Puyol and Gerard Pique tossed the ball around the Eagles.

Nigeria made her first attempt towards Catalonia’s rear in the fifth minute, but goalkeeper Jordi Codina of Getafe was quick to grab the ball before Brown Ideye got to the box.

Catalonia manager, Johan Cruyff pulled out the scorer of his side, Gonzalez and introduced Alvaro Vasquez who plays for Getafe in the 12th minute.

The Nigerian team, who were under pressure to get the ball back from their hosts, conceded a foul around the marked area, giving Xavi a free kick, which he ballooned against the Eagles’ wall in the 16th minute.

Xavi and his teammates held on to the ball, commanding 69-31 possession, while the Eagles fought back but were unable to foil Catalonia’s ‘Tiki Taka’ style of play.

The Nigerian side took their first bold step midway into the first half, but their finishing was poor. The Eagles finally came out of their shell and took the game to Catalonia, who conceded three corner kicks within seven minutes, but were still in search of the elusive equaliser.

Lazio of Italy midfielder, Oguenyi Onazi took Nigeria’s first straight shot at Catalonia goal area, but his volley missed target on the dot of 45th minute, ending the first half 1-0 in favour of the hosts.

The second half began with the Eagles coming out more to challenge for ball possession, as Keshi brought in Ahmed Musa, Ik Uche and some experienced players to fortify his squad.
The changes worked for Nigeria, as the Eagles fought for the ball with the home stars.

Bright Dike, who plays in the Major League Soccer, MLS in America, however got a pass from Onazi, dribbled the last defender and hammered home the equaliser in the 56th minute of the tie.
Ik Uche almost got a second goal for Nigeria eight minutes after Dike’s goal, but his feeble shot could not beat goalkeeper Codina.

Catalonia tried in vain to get the winner towards the end of the match, but defender Kenneth Omeruo and Nigerian goalie, Agbim stopped the efforts made by Tejera and the other strikers.
Tello also blew what could have sealed victory for the star-studded Catalonia on the night. He came face-to-face with Agbim, but spun the ball into touch in the 89th minute.

Bojan, who missed a second minute goal, was adjudged the best player and got a trophy, while skipper Agbim received the winners’ trophy for the Eagles, who celebrated the victory into the night in Catalonia.



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