World Champions Expose Eagles Technical Defxposiciencies

Vincent Enyeama Fumbles, Austin Okocha Rated Best Eagle

WORLD champions Brazil proved their class Wednesday night (11 June, 2003) when they defeated Nigeria’s Super Eagles 3-0 at the Abuja National Stadium.

The match, dubbed ‘Game of the Century’ by the organizers, ended in bitter disappointment for Christian Chukwu and his players as Brazil completely dominated on the night and fully deserved their comprehensive victory.

22-year-old Corinthians forward Gil, making his international debut, got Brazil on their way to victory when he finished off a great move by slipping the ball beyond Vincent Enyeama after only 30 minutes.

The goal failed to inject life into Nigeria’s lethargic attack spearheaded by off-form Yakubu Aiyegbeni and Brazil keeper Dida was left untroubled for much of the one-sided game.

Eagles’ goalkeeper Enyeama contrived to gift Brazil two more goals to make the score-line embarrassing, first failing to deal with what appeared to be a harmless cross before spilling a weak shot into a Brazilian’s path.

Another debutant, Sao Paulo’s Luis Fabiano, rose to meet a high cross from the right by Belleti for Brazil’s second goal seven minutes before the break.

The match was emphatically over as a contest when Adriano profited from Enyeama’s mishandling of a routine cross to blast the ball into the roof of the net.

The Eagles looked listless and dispirited for a large part of the match, failing to put a meaningful succession of passes together and the Brazillians looked much sharper and hungrier for victory.

Coach Chukwu’s selection, which saw players like the ineffective Garba Lawal and Ikpe Ekong start and stay on for a long time – Lawal even played full time even when he had no business staying on till half time – did not help matters.

Chukwu’s substitutions, including the odd replacement of striker Yakubu Aiyegbeni with midfielder Christian Obodo when the Eagles were 2-0 down, also helped in blunting the Eagles attack and the wily Brazilians took full advantage to run Nigeria aground with Manchester United target Ronaldinho running the show.

Eagles captain Austin Jay Jay Okocha was outstanding for Nigeria with his delightful tricks confounding the Brazilians. Centre-back Isaac Okoronkwo also had an impressive outing.


Nigeria vs Brazil Minute-By-Minute (2003)

1 min: Brazil’s Ricardinho takes a dangerous free kick but it is caught by Nigeria’s Enyeama.

3 min: Ronaldinho gets a pass from Fabiano but Okoronkwo makes a saving tackle.

4 min: Kanu’s attempt to shoot was blocked.

5 min: Okocha dribbles and make a pass to Kanu but he is checked by Lucio.

10 min: Kleberson pass frees Fabiano but Okoronkwo shields the ball to concede a corner – Brazil’s second of the game.

13 min: Yakubu Aiyegbeni goes past Juan with a burst of pace but Lucio makes a covering tackle.

15 min: Beletti crosses from deep but it is comfortably held by Enyeama.

18 min: Nigeria takes a corner from the right. Kanu gets a header but a foul is given against Nigeria for pushing.

19 min: Ronaldinho chips to Kleberson on the right. Saving tackles by Orjinta results in a corner. Ronaldinho takes corner but it is headed clear.

20 min: Cross by Utaka on the right. Lawal knocks down for Kanu, who shoots wide from the edge of the goal area.

24 min: Kanu wins a free kick 30 meters away from goal. Orjinta’s shot goes wide of Dida’s left post.

27 min: Brazil triangle down the right ends with Gil heading towards the byline and just fails to keep the ball in play.

29 min: Ikong wins free kick near the corner flag. Okocha crosses but its headed clear. It falls to Udeze who makes a dangerous burst but his low cross is cleared. Nigeria immediately play it back in for Kanu, who beats Juan, gets to the byline and pulls another cross for Dida.

34 min: GOAL! A pass by Ricardinho behind the Nigerian right back sets up Gil on the left channel. He runs in and slips a left foot finish past Enyeama.

37 min: Long mazy dribble by Utaka, goes past two opponents but his shot harmlessly goes across the face of the goal.

38 min: GOAL! Ronaldinho passes to the overlapping Beletti, who crosses to the far post over the goalkeeper for a close range header by Luis Fabiano, who does not miss.

44 min: The heart seems to be out of the Nigerian team, as Brazil hold on to their two goal lead.

45 min: Kanu gets a free kick near the corner flag. Okocha cross headed away by lucio. Udeze gets to the left byline and his looping cross is cleared. Kanu gets to the ball but his cross is cleared by Kleberson.

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HALF TIME: Nigeria 0-2 Brazil. The Super Eagles had most of the game for the first half hour but Brazil are in the lead due to their skilful use of the flanks. Nigeria is finding it hard to mark Brazil’s overlapping full-backs.

47 min: Chris Obodo comes in for Aiyegbeni but Brazil make no changes as the second half begins.

49 min: Okocha pass frees Nigeria right back and his cross is headed away by Lucio.

50 min: Lucio passes to Fabiano but Okoronkwo averts danger.

51 min: Excellent diagonal pass from Okocha goes to Utaka who gets in front of his marker but kicks the ball too far ahead of himself and it goes to Dida.

53 min: Dangerous low cross by Kleberson but Okoronkwo sends it over the line for a corner kick. Corner is cleared and falls for Ronaldinho who crosses beyond the far post where Gil heads back for Emerson. His volley goes wide near the left post.

57 min: Ronaldinho dribbles Udeze, chips over Enyeama but Okoronkwo does a great job to clear the ball off the Nigerian line.

58 min: Udeze passes to Lawal, who crosses into the Brazilian box but no Nigerian is at the end of it.

63 min: Obodo robs Lucio and races towards the Brazilian goal but Lucio recovers in time to block him. Obodo passes to Okocha who tries to split Brazil’s defence with a pass which Kanu fails to control.

64 min: Ikong gets yellow card for a sliding foul on Ronaldinho.

65 min: Udeze fouls Ronaldinho 25 metres out. Ronaldinho takes the free kick and it goes over the bar.

66 min: Okocha’s 30 metre shot goes just wide of Dida’s left post.

67 min: Ricardinho plays a pass to Fabiano down the left flank but Okoronkwo puts it into touch for a corner, which is cleared.

70 min: Okocha dribbles and makes cross field pass to Utaka who unleashes a spectacular shot which goes wide of Dida’s post.

73 min: Brazil makes double substitution – Midfielder Adriano for Gil and striker Adriano for Luis Fabiano.

-74 min: Dangerous chip by Okocha makes contact with Juan, who denies Obodo and the ball runs through to Dida.

75 min: Long range chip by Okocha goes over the defence and is chested down by Kanu who is crowded out by Juan and Dida.

77 min: Brazil’s third substitution – Beletti goes off for Eduardo Costa, while Nigeria’s Seyi Olofinjana comes on for Ike Ekong.

78 min: Okocha passes to Lawal, who unleashes a fierce shot into the side netting.

83 min: GOAL! Ricardinho pass frees the overlapping Kleberson who fires a low cross which is not held by the goalkeeper and striker Adriano lashes it in with his right foot.

89 min: Okocha has been the man of the match for Nigeria. He chips to Nworgu who shoots from close range, which is saved by Dida’s face. Adriano solo turn and burst is saved at his feet by Enyeama.

93 min: Corner to Brazil – A chip puts Gilberto through but Okoronkwo makes saving tackle. Brazil make little use of the resultant kick.

FULL TIME: Nigeria 0-3 Brazil

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