There was purpose and gusto in the Nigerian attacks as they settled down and forced the Bosnians to back paddle. They got the men behind the ball and pushed into attack in numbers upon winning possession. With a little composure, Nigeria could have been two goals up by the 20th minute. Each wasted Nigeria chance encouraged the Bosnians who grew stronger in counter-attacking. Nigeria’s Musa could have put the match beyond the Europeans with better alertness and finishing.
In the push to get an opener, they got exposed on the wings, especially the right side where Emunike and Odemwinge found favours from their defenders. Odemwinge picked a ball in the defensive third and accelerated across the midfield third. Emunike received the ball and swept past a Bosnian who claimed a fouled. The Nigerian striker had tactical awareness to see Odemwinge’s continued run. He played a cut back that the Stoke striker took first time through advancing Begovic’s legs.
Emunike did well to slow down, take off at pace, round his man, attack the by-line and looked up before cutting the ball back. Peter also made a clever run and then hanged back a while waiting for that pass from the right. The defenders lost sight of him as they failed to keep a tight leash on him. The communication between the goalkeeper and the defence could have been better.
Edin Dzeko began to play away from the last men, preferring to come short around the D-zone. Nigeria failed to realise that and did not track him as he began to touch the ball more often, taking wild attempts at goal. Regardless, the Africans looked threatening with each attack and they tried to get the green wall behind the ball.
Bosnia Herzegovina upped the tempo a little and increase pressure on the ball to force errors. They got first to the ball and won the second ball while Nigeria were content to absorb the pressure. They could not utilise the ball possession. The African champions got stuck and failed to play out of midfield as they began to lose the ball without pressure and took a lot of time to retrieve it.
Begovic made a lot of telling saves to deny Nigeria a handful of goals especially from Emunike who had a field day on the right. Victor Enyeama had to be at his level best to scoop the late Dzeko header from a corner kick. There was further drama as the Enyeama saved Dzeko shot by his legs. The ricochet crushed against the left upright. That ended a brilliant maiden campaign of the Europeans, but Nigeria deserved the victory as they managed the match well after scoring. They could have easily scored a few more goals, had they not sat back and be content with the odd goal.