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Nigeria defeats Cote d'Ivoire 2-0, takes on Belgium in semi-final

Posted by By RYAN LUCAS on 2008/08/16 | Views: 2836 |

Nigeria defeats Cote d'Ivoire 2-0, takes on Belgium in semi-final


Peter Odemwingie scored in the first half and Victor Obinna converted a late penalty Saturday to lead Nigeria to a 2-0 win over African rival Cote d'Ivoire and into the semifinals of men's football.

Peter Odemwingie scored in the first half and Victor Obinna converted a late penalty Saturday to lead Nigeria to a 2-0 win over African rival Cote d'Ivoire and into the semifinals of men's football.

Odemwingie hit a right-footed strike past Ivorian goalkeeper Vincent Angina in the 44th, and Obinna added the second goal in the 80th after defender Souleymane Bamba took down Chinedu Ogbuke Obasi in the box.

Nigeria advances to take on Belgium, which upset Italy 3-2 earlier, in the semifinals on Saturday in Shanghai. The victory over Cote d'Ivoire also assures Nigeria its best Olympic showing since it became the first African nation to win gold in football at the Atlanta Games in 1996.

Both Nigeria and Cote d'Ivoire struggled to find any sort of rhythm in a sloppy first half that saw players knocking easy balls out of bounds and hitting errant passes to the opposing team. Other than a group of Nigerian fans dressed in green and white that danced and played on trumpets and drums, there was little excitement for the crowd of almost 29,000 in Qinhuangdao until Odemwingie's strike on the counter in the 44th.

Pushing upfield after an Cote d'Ivoire free kick, Obinna raced forward and slipped the ball to Odemwingie, who first-timed a low right-footed drive from 15 meters (yards) past the finger tips of the diving goalkeeper Vincent Angban and inside the far post.

"Every game we've tried to improve," Nigeria coach Samson Siasia said. "Today I think we played technically very, very sound. We had our chances on breakaways, and the first chance we had was a goal, so I was very, very pleased."

Chinedu Ogbuke Obasi almost doubled the lead just after halftime, but the forward hit his left-footed volley from 12 meters (yards) out straight at Angban.

Cote d'Ivoire, making its first appearance in the men's Olympic football tournament, finally seemed to find a rhythm up front as it pushed forward in search of an equalizer.

The Ivorians' first quality scoring opportunity of the match came in the 51st when substitute Franck Dja Djedje's cross found Salomon Kalou. The Chelsea striker turned and flicked the ball from 8 meters (yards) out, forcing a diving save from Nigeria 'keeper Ambruse Vanzekin to push past the post.

Ivorian striker Gervinho threatened in the 70th. He skipped past two defenders and hit a right-footed drive from the top of the area, but Vanzekin pushed the shot past the post. Minutes later, Vanzekin denied Kafoumba Coulibaly from 10 meters (yards) out.

"It was a very close match between two hard working sides," Cote d'Ivoire coach Gerard Gili said. "Both teams had a lot of opportunities, but they took their chances and we didn't."

Cote d'Ivoire continued to press but it was Nigeria that found the net as time wound down, when Bamba took down Ogbuke Obasi in the box and Iranian referee Masoud Moradi pointed to the spot. Obinna calmly converted the ensuing penalty with a blast into the upper right-hand corner to put the game out of reach.

Obinna said the Nigerians watched a 10-man Belgium side beat Italy 3-2 on television before their own match kicked off in Qinhuangdao.

"They are quite a competitive team with good players," he said. "But I believe that if we play to instructions, as coach has said, that we will be able to carry the day."

2008 AP

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Fay(Katy, Texas, US)says...

Actually translates to bravehearted.