Nigeria too good for Iraq

Manu Garba’s squad will now meet Group E runners-up in the last 16

By Alex Leach

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Published: Sat 26 Oct 2013, 1:19 PM

Last updated: Tue 7 Apr 2015, 7:08 PM

Nigeria thrashed Iraq 5-0 to emerge top of Group F as Rashid Stadium resounded to vociferous chants of: ‘All we are saying: Give us more goals!’ from a highly partisan crowd here on Friday.

Manu Garba’s squad will now meet the Group E runners-up in Al Ain next Tuesday evening (Kick-off: 8pm) in the last 16.

The 2007 champions got off to a blistering start with a two-goal salvo inside the opening four minutes. Chidiebere Nwakali hit the near post with the Super Eaglets’ first meaningful attack, but — with Iraq failing to clear their lines — they recycled possession and struck with their very next foray forward.

MusaYahaya stormed into the penalty box, where his bulldozing run was abruptly halted by Iraq captain Mohammed Salam’s ill-advised challenge and Italian referee Gianluca Rocchi had little hesitation in pointing to the spot.

Nigeria’s skipper Musa Muhammed stepped up to convert clinically past goalkeeper Hayder Mohammed from 12 yards and the rampaging right-back had a hand in his side’s second mere moments later. Kelechi Iheanacho released Muhammed away down the right flank and his neat cut-back from the byeline was met on the run by an unmarked Nwakali, who swept home with aplomb.

Even at this early stage, Iraq seemed at sixes and sevens and Nigeria probably had those numbers in mind to try and replicate their prior 6-1 thrashing of defending champions Mexico back on day three of this tournament. They’d got halfway towards that tally just after the quarter of an hour mark as a besieged Iraq defence buckled once again under the sheer weight of numbers swarming them and Yahaya was on hand to slot in Nigeria’s third. Iraq brought on Yasir Ammar for Mustafa Mohammed after only 19 minutes and that change, along presumably with the ominous sense of an impending rout, settled them down to the task at hand temporarily.

Sajjad Hussein saw a firm header from Ahmed Nadhim’s centre acrobatically tipped over by Dele Alampusu at the other end, while the Nigerian shot-stopper was also equal to a Basher Resan free-kick shortly afterwards. Taiwo Awoniyi then threatened a fourth at the other end, only to be denied by Hayder Mohammed. However, the Iraq custodian was at fault when that strike did predictably arrive four minutes from half time, flapping at a Nigerian corner to allow Yahaya to volley in emphatically first time.

Iraq began the second period with the clear intention of restoring some pummelled pride and they sporadically looked dangerous through their ever-willing workhouse up front, Hussein.

Nigeria had lost none of their offensive potency during the interval though and Awoniyi nearly made it 5-0 with another crisp effort that came rebounding back off the far post. Resan duly rattled the woodwork himself midway through the second half with a drive from distance that Alampasu palmed onto the crossbar and over.

Iraq probed away in the remaining minutes, yet Nigeria fittingly finished off with a flourish – second-half substitute Chigozi Obasi lashing in an unstoppable, rising blast past Mohammed’s despairing dive from 20 yards.

Iraq: Hayder Mohammed, Alaa Ali Mhawi, Ahmed Nadhim, Mahdi Abdulzahra, Mustafa Sameer, Sherko Kareem, Bashar Resan, Mohammed Salam (Captain) (Amjed Kareem 73), Ali Isam, Sajjad Hussein (Ali Qasim 56), Mustafa Mohammed (Yasir Ammar 19). Substitutes: Amjed Attwan, Ahmed Abdulabbas, Ali Saleh, Fahad Kareem, Samer Majid, Mohammed Shakir, Alaa Ahhmed. Coach: Muwafaq Adlool.

Nigeria: Dele Alampasu, Musa Muhammed (Captain), Samuel Okon, Akinjide Idowu (Baba Salihu 61), Aliyu Abubakar, Abdullahi Alfa, Kelechi Iheanacho, Musa Yahaya, Chidiebere Nwakali (Chigozi Obasi 84), Taiwo Awoniyi, Zaharaddeen Bello. Substitutes: Denis Nya, Habib Makanjuola, Saviour Godwin, Raymond Japhet, Abdulazeez Abubakar, Chidera Ezeh, Francis Uzoho, Success Isaac. Coach: Manu Garba.

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