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Golden Moments In Sport: The End of Nigeria’s Race To Last 16 At The 2002 FIFA World Cup

Having lost their first two group games at the 2002 Korea-Japan FIFA World Cup, the Super Eagles were faced with a most difficult task in their final game of the group phase series.

Although Nigeria’s fate at the tournament was written in stone, the team still had one final task to save their ego, a game against the almighty England.

Nigeria 0:0 England

With a lineup that had the likes of Rio Ferdinand, David Beckham, Ashely Cole, Paul Scholes and Michel Owen, the Eagles were written off by world football analysts who gave a plethora of reasons why team Nigeria would not stand a chance against England’s finest.

However, the world was in a for a great show on June 12, 2002, in Osaka.

The Super Eagles had nothing more to play for other than their pride, and this was the perfect reason for the Nigerians to put on their best display yet, at the time.

Ifeanyi Udeze was a bane to the English players on the left, while Benedict Akwuegbu and Julius Aghahowa constituted a menace to England’s defense.

Nigeria had a clear chance in the 35th minute, but Akwuegbu squandered the opportunity, choosing to go for goal from a tight angle rather than send the ball to another clear player.

England goalie, David Seaman, stopped Akwuegbu’s effort with ease.

Just before halftime, Paul Scholes unleashed a brilliant shot bound for the back of the net, but Vincent Enyeama made a remarkable save, palming the ball away from goal.

The Super Eagles held their ground against England’s best, and even got very close to a goal on many occasions, but Ferdinand kept the English defense in place.

Nigeria held England to a goalless draw, but the English team managed to slip into the next round, thanks to Sweden’s win against Argentina.

Featured image source: Brila

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Achem Samuel

Achem Samuel is a writer and a musician, he is passionate about God and also an ardent fan of tech, sports and music.

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