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THE SHOT THAT PASSED RIGHT THROUGH THE NET    African Cup Of Nations 2000  JAN 22 - FEB 13  Nigeria/Ghana 
Zusammenfassung in Deutsch ]

Group A
Group B
Group C
Group D
3rd place
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semi-finals: Nigeria - South Africa   2 : 0 

This had been the preview before the match: 
After 28 of the 32 matches of the tournament Nigeria, South-Africa, and Cameroon look like the strongest African teams, with Nigeria getting the price tag for the most exciting.  
But now it is about playing each other and about who will win the Cup (do not forget: outsiders Tunisia are still in the race as well).  
The Nigerians: they did not play each match at the same quality level, but when they were best, they looked irresistible. And the play at home. Their flamboyant style is motored by an unbelievable midfileld with Okocha and Kanu, assisted by Finidi and Adepoju.  
But Okocha is banned after a silly elbow against a Senegalese player and a resulting red card in the quarter finals. And their attack, usually spiced with names like Amokachi, Akpoborie, and Ikpeba has had to play with (young) replacements. Are they (already) good enough for the big matches? 
The South Africans are missing big names upfront as well. No McCarthy, no Masinga, and possibly an injured Bartlett. So the the bright new star Nomvete will try to catch the Nigerians on counter attacks. 
But maybe a surprise will bring up both, Ikpeba and Bartlett for this match. 
Despite prominent names, the biggest question of the match could be the Nigerian concentration. Against Morocco they achieved shutting out the opponent. But overall statisctics are alarming and stunning: 
Since 1994 Nigeria has played 23 matches at big final tournaments, including the 1994 Nations Cup, the 1994 World Cup, the 1996 Olympics, the 1998 World Cup and this Nations Cup.  
Some data: At the 94 Nations Cup they had to come from behind as well at the semi-finals and at the final. At the semi-finals they needed a penalty shoot-out against the equally strong Côte d'Ivoire. At the 1996 Olympics they had to come from behind against both, Brasil at semi-finals and Argentina at the final. In the first round they had not achieved the task against Brasil and would have gone out, if Japan had scored enough goals against Hungary. 
At the 1998 World Cup they fell behind in three of their four matches, the last deficit proved as too big: Danmark continued exploiting the situation and won 4:1. 
Most conspicious: Early conceded goals.  
1994 in the finals against Zambia after 4 minutes, 1996 in the semi-finals against Brasil after 1 minute, and 1996 in the Olympic finals against Argentina after 3 Minutes.  
1998 against Paraguay after 1 minute and two goals against Denmark after 3 and 12 minutes. 
And 2000 against Senegal after 7 minutes when a defensive blunder allowed Fadiga a lot of time to score his goal. 
Only the 1994 World Cup had been 'perfect' in this context. But it saw a situation when losing to Argentina that repeated itself two years later at Atlanta: Nigeria was caught unconcentrated by quickly executed free kicks for smart goals by the Argentinians. 
Comeback adventures might be the most exciting way for their fans to win matches: Nigeria has achieved to win 4 out of those 6 early fall-behinds. But the more experienced the counterparts, the more impossible the task. 
23 matches - 11 fall-behinds during matches in total produced only 5 defeats. 
9 times it was 0:1 and that led only to 3 losses! 
The shutouts were less exciting but effective: 11 matches with 9 wins and only two 0:0 draws in less crucial first round matches. 
The only match where Nigeria took the lead and opponents scored goals was the Nigeria-Tunisia  game of the first round at this Nations Cup. 
Those facts speak for both: the creativity potential of Nigeria and their vulnerability. 
And for an exciting game. 

Nigeria: 1-Ike Shoronmu; 3-Celestine Babayaro, 5-Furo Iyenemi, 6-Taribo West, 21-Godwin Okpara, 7-Finidi George, 15-Sunday Oliseh, 8-Mutiu Adepoju, 13-Tijani Babangida, 4-Nwankwo Kanu, 18-Raphael Chukwu.  
South Africa: 22-Andre Arendse; 4-Lucas Radebe, 5-Mark Fish, 15-Pierre Issa, 19-Dumisa Ngobe, 8-Thabo Mngomeni, 10-John Moshoeu, 7-Quinton Fortune, 11-Helman Mkhalele, 9-Shaun Bartlett, 17-Siyabonga Nomvete.  
Referee: Gamal el Ghandour (Egypt)  

1st half: 
-Sunday Oliseh is back in the team to stabilize the Nigerian Super Eagles: In the last 10 matches at final tournaments Nigeria has conceded 5 times a goal in the first 10 minutes... 
-kickoff 1535h 
-('1) Babangida takes the ball and runs down the left hand side, takes a cut inside and shoots at the near post, Arendse deflects it, but it's in the back of the net,  1:0 
what a beginning after the story of conceding goals! 
-('4) Babangida with another run igniting the crowd, he manages to pass the ball on despite attacked by 4 defenders, but Chukwu? loses control 
Now it is a different scene than expected: South Africa has to attack and Nigeria with some room for counter play 
-('9) Soth Africa: Mkhalele wins a free-kick from the right hand side, already the second, but Nigeria defends the Quinton Fortune ball in successfully, some seconds later a Bartlestt attempt flies high across the goal 
South African forwards put some pressure on the slow Nigerian build up at this moment, long balls threaten to hurt them 
-('12) error by Taribo West in build up, but no harm here 
-('14) another Quinton Fortune free kick into the penalty area and Shoronmu with a few problems 
-('16) Huge scene for Nigeria: Babangida again: this time he decides for a through ball on Chukwu, who is stopped in the last moment by Arendse, the rebounding ball is shot acrooss the bar. 
-('17) Nomvete is stopped at the last moment by the Nigerian defence 
Nomvete starts to get into the game 
-('20) Nigeria: Chukwu wins a free kick from half right, 20 meters. Okocha's not there and Babayaro kicks it into the wall 
-('23) Nigeria: Shoronmu is out in time to deny South Africa a chance.  
-('24) Nigeria: Finidi free kick from the right wing causes some orientation problems in the South African defence 
-('26) Mosheou tries from far, but no problem for Shoronmu 
-('29) Nigeria: Finidi tries from distance but misses target 
-('30) South Africa: Ngobe ball on Nomvete who hits the outside of the net 
-('34) Nigeria: a Super Eagles attack over the right wing plays Babangida free on the left side who directly takes it and chips it by the inside of his foot into the far corner from about 10 meters - 2:0 
-('35) Kanu ignites the crowd 
-('36) South Africa threatens but it is Babangida on the counter attack again - this time he's stopped 
-('38) South Africa tries again but can't win nothing more than a corner 
-('40) Nigeria: Kanu wins a free kick from the right side of the penalty right at the border but Finidis attempt does nothing 
Kanu protects each ball with his body and great technique. South Africa seems run out of odeas at the moment. 
-('44) South Africa causes some danger 

you want to know for which club Kanu played 1996? 
which shirt number he wore at Atlanta? 
you wonder whether Chad has played any matches recently and who played for them? 
the author has just informed me that the new African Yearbook 2000 is out now 
(if you fill out the form, ask also for the 'History Of The African Nations Cup' which is scheduled to come out in March) 

Halftime 2:0 
Nigeria in the drivers seat from the beginning on: the early goal has put them in the position to play a different game and exploit some qualities of a player, which has suddenly added another name to the Nigerian impact player arsenal with this match: Tijani Babangida. 
South Africa looks as if it will be difficult for them to score at all now. But one goal could shift the momentum as so often in football. So stay online.  

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2nd half: 
-kickoff 1638h 
-South Africa: #18 Bapela is on now 
-('47) South Africa with a different attitude? Babangida is fouled right away 
-('49) Nigeria with some pressing and an Aendse error: the ball comes to Chukwu who is all alone in front of the goal but needs some time to get the ball under control. So Radebe can arrive in time to irritate him and make his shot go wide 
-('51) Great save by Shoronmu against a most dangerous low 25 meter shot by Bapela that would have gone accurately into the corner 
Bapela is the only player from South African champions Mamelodi Sundowns on the field 
-('56) Nigeria: Babangida curves around the defenders again and is fouled by Fish short before he can penetrate into the South African penalty area - free kick from half left, 17 meters, Babangida has to get treated 
-('58) Nigeria tries a trick put it is either executed poorly or it was really new and did not work out 
-(''60) South Africa: Huge opportunity, but Bartlett who takes the rebounding ball after a Nomvete chance fires it wide from not more than 8 meters 
-('64) Mistake by Nigeria and a good solo run by Nomvete. Shoronmu can save his shot from close range 
-('65) South Africa: Another promising attack this time run by Mkhalele but his ball in from the right is narrowly missed by Nomvete 
-('66) Nigeria: A Finidi granade across the bar - it wasn't far 
-('67) South Africa revives the pressure 
-('69) Aghahowa comes in for Chukwu 
-('72) His arrival has inspired the whole team. Kanu has another big scene 
-('73) Now it is Finidi, but his finishing misses the target close 
-('74) problematic shot by Mkhalele, but Shorunmu is there 
-('75) Nigeria: another Babangida slalom - he sets up Aghahowa but Arendse throws himself into his shot, the rebounding attempt by Kanu is wide 
-('75) Nigeria: Ikpeba returns - he comes on for Babangida 
-('76) South Africa: Nomvete solo run points out he is still there but the others waste the ball 
-('77) South Africa: Mosheou far off target 
-('77) South Africa: Lekoelea on for Fortune 
-('80) South Africa: Ndlanya comes on for Nomvete 
-('82) Kanu sets up Ikpeba, but a defender is right there to block his shot 
-('85) South Africa: Mkhalele shot, saved by Shoronmu without much problem 
.('86) Adepoju wins a corner - which leads to a Ikpeba shot which is to weak to pass Arendse  
-('88) It's showtime for Aghahowa 
-('89) Ikpeba wants a goal desperately, but his shot on a counter attack is wide 
-('injury time) Okunowu comes in to eat some more time off the clock 

final result 2:0 
Playing two hosts in a row has proved too much for the South Africans. Nigeria, lifted into the driver's seat by the first minute goal, was unstoppable. They look forward to the climax on Sunday: The Nations Cup final against either Cameroon or Tunisia 

and now... 

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