World Cup 2002 - African qualification

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World Cup 2002 - African qualification - match report
Nigeria - Sudan 3:0   Jan 27, 2001, 1500 GMT, Port Hartcourt, att. 30,000

Everything else than a Nigerian success would turn out disastrously for the Super Eagles. But again preparations have been disturbed by power wrangles and the Nigerian wagon looks like one which is pulled by many ropes and people into different directions and in consequence does not get off the spot at all.
But there is no help in panic. If Nigeria beats Sudan they will be able to relax and watch what Ghana does against Liberia and especially at Sudan in February when the Eagles have a day off.

1st half
-missed the first ten minutes, cannot confirm the scoreline yet
-the match takes place at Port Harcourt, the first match since a long time ago outside Lagos
-Sudan, although inferior in one against one, do not hide but seem to have a nervous goalkeeper, the pitch does not look  easy to play on, the Sudanese should be used to that
-('16) a Sudanese striker curves around the entire Nigerian defence, the angle gets too difficult for a shot and his cross is not good enough
-('19) Okocha, in his typical style, suddenly accelerates, fires from 18 meters - high across the bar
-Nigerias pressure is mounting but only half chances are the consequence yet
-the pace of the match is not too high
-('32) the Sudanese play very far drawn back now but suddenly they start a xcounter attack with 5 players, only finsihing does not seem their strength
-('34) Okocha slaloms into the penalty area but is stopped for a corner
-most Nigerian crosses get defended well
-('36) this time a real opportunity for Nigeria after a chip into the penalty area, but the Sudanese keeper is already too close and can intervene
-('40) a promising Nigerian attack but this time the keeper plucks down a cross easily
-('43) a long range shot by LAwal bounces on the ground but the keeper makes no mistake, seizing it perfectly
-the Nigerian game has improved towards the end of the half with Okocha distributing the balls well 

Sudan have a quite comfortable afternoon yet: They are a unit which looks like they play together more often than their opponents, everybody seems to know what to do in his place. They have always been good establishing a sometimes stunning  ball control and passing game on difficult pitches. And the tempo of the match is too low yet to get them into trubles here. The Nigerian players are all superior to their opponents but yet this does not materialise. They appear to be able to afford to be patient until their Brazilian style of varying the tempo might pay off: Sudan is not too dangerous. Towards the end of the half the Nigerian game was running more smoothly and Sudan were pushed far back into their half sometimes. Anyway - the match has become much closer than expected.

2nd half
-('49) Okocha free kick across the bar
-('52) huge opportunity after a through ball for Sudanese #8?, alone broken through, but the angle becomes difficult and his shot goes behind the goal
-('55) Sudanese keeper saves a good low shot after a corner
-('56) Agali wins a challenge fires and the keeper deflect his shot from 15 minutes for a corner
-('58) a fast attack over the left wing, a cross, the keeper makes the mistake leaves his goal and comes short when Agali gets it and heads it into the deserted goal - 1:0
-Nigeria feels well with the game while Sudan are not capable of turning the momentum - a few more half chances for Nigeria including a couple of wasted free kicks are the consequence
-('68) this time it is a cross from the right (Finidi) and a powerful header by Agali from 6 meters into the triangle - the keeper is without chance though this time he had remained on the line - 2:0
-('69) Shoronmu has to come up with a good save against #9?
-('72) keeper saves against an Oliseh free kick granade from 25 m
-('77) one of the feared Oliseh long distance hammers goes wide
-Sudan is completely out of the game now
-('79) Agali wins another battle in the air, this time against the keeper after a long ball from midfield - but the header only rolls without power towards the empty goal and can get picked up easily by a defender
-('88) Agali hits the crossbar and finally it is Kanu who has come on as a substitute who makes it 3:0
-Okocha shows another trick - he has had a good match after a slow start
-('injury time) some late problems for the Nigerian defence

final score 3:0
two different matches: before the first goal Sudan were in the match, after the goal they had no chance to put any pressure upon the Nigerians. Nigeria broke the resistance because they had a weapon in Agali which worked well when the team failed to play out the Sudanese defence on the ground (until that moment)


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