Stephan Keshi always talked about the need to continue to play an attacking style that made Nigeria one of the top footballing nations in Africa. “When I was playing we always played an attacking style,” said Super Eagles coach Stephan Keshi. “Playing a team like Venezuela will give me more ideas and knowledge as to what we have to do.”
His team did not disappoint in a 3-1 win over Venezuela at a narrow pitch at Marlins Park where 13,767 were in attendance.
Overall there was a great deal of dynamic on display on both sides, but the Nigerians made a great amount of difference on the wings over a Vinotinto that came to Miami with their A-side and also were introducing some new players to the national team pool.
Dynamo Kiev’s Brown Ideye, Real Betis’ Nosa Igiebor and Lazio’s Ogenyi Onazi scored for Nigeria en route to victory. There were also many debutants such as Newcastle’s Shola Ameobi as well as Portland Timbers man Bright Dike.
With many players that weren’t accustomed to each other, the squad had some issues early on allowing Venezuela to dominate possession as well as take advantage of the Nigerian imprecisions. Nigeria would start to impose some pressure on the goal defended by Dani Hernández as shots by Obafemi Martins would end up wide or parried away by the Valladolid goalkeeper and the first half would end up scoreless.
The second half saw Nigeria more aggressive and their play along the wings, especially on the right, would start to pay dividends. Nigeria’s overlapping on that sector allowed for there to be space that would eventually lead to the first goal of the encounter. Salomon Kwabe was vital down the right as his low cross into the area led to Brown Ideye’s first goal with the national team just two minutes after the restart.
That goal gave Nigeria some great momentum and were able to capitalize on it until just six minutes later with a shot that was taken from about 35 meters by Igiebor Nosa that caught Dani Hernández off his line and Nigeria were cruising at that point with a commanding 2-0 lead and silencing the crowd at Marlins Park.
The substitution in the second half for Frank Fletscher really gave a new dynamic to Venezuela and he would be the catalyst that would help Venezuela finally would make things 2-1 after an exquisite pass from Borussia Mönchengladbach midfielder Juan Arango. The tables would turn after that 70th minute goal, Nigeria would have to be a bit more defensive.
At that point Venezuela became the owner of the ball and also dictated the traffic in the pitch. Yet Nigeria were always dangerous on the counterattack and their pace would always keep Venezuela honest and prevented them from becoming too offensive, which was one of César Farías main objectives in this camp.
Nigeria were very intelligent in handling that situation, Obefemi Martins would come off and Shola Ameobi would replace him and, according to coach Stephan Keshi he was a vital part of this team today. “You can’t quantify the importance (Shola) has on the team. You can’t quantify experience and he’s brought so much since he came two nights ago. In the training sessions, he was carrying the boys along as a senior player, and experienced player.”
To Keshi, Ameobi was able to see the problems that the team was having on the field and he was the one able to rectify them by talking to the players and guiding them along. He would also be the culprit in the third goal for the Super Eagles as his pass inside the top of the six would allow Ogeny Onazi to score his first goal of at the senior level in only his second cap and finish the match with a 3-1 victory.
José Salomón Rondón would score the equalizer for Venezuela in the first half and referee Terry Vaughn allowed the goal although the replay showed that the Rubin Kazan man brought the ball down with his hand twice. One of the referee assistant saw the jumbotron and then told the referee that the former Málaga man scored thus denying Venezuela their first goal of the match.
“We had a goal disallowed after an assistant saw the replay after the goal was scored. I have never seen that happen. I didn’t have the angle to see it,”said Venezuela coach César Farías. “In FIFA that doesnt exist, we work with human error.”
Nigeria now will get ready for the first competition of the season as they will participate in the African Cup of Nations in South Africa. Meanwhile Venezuela will look to play in Europe during the next FIFA break in February as they prepare for qualifying play against Argentina and Colombia.