Nigeria ties Greece, 0-0, at PPL Park

Posted: June 05, 2014

Vincent Enyeama batted Greek forward Georgios Samaras' shot from the left side of the box into the air. The rebound went straight to forward Dimitris Salpingidis, who attempted a header in the 83d minute of the pre-World Cup friendly between Nigeria and Greece at PPL Park. This time, Enyeama, the Nigerian goalkeeper, leaped and caught the attempt, preserving a scoreless game.

Defense and goalkeeping controlled the game in a 0-0 draw played in front of a largely pro-Greece crowd of 10,131 fans at the Chester stadium. Each team held the other in check throughout the game, preventing many quality scoring chances.

The teams managed just four shots on goal apiece.

"We can do much better," Nigerian coach Stephen Keshi said.

It was evident early on that defense would control the day. The teams combined for nine shots, three of which were on goal, in the first half. In the 24th minute, Nigerian forward Ahmed Musa found space in the offensive zone, but his shot was snuffed out by Greek goaltender Panagiotis Glykos. In the 36th minute, midfielder Ogenyi Onazi had an opportunity, but Glykos made a diving save.

Greece's defensive success wasn't unusual. In World Cup qualifying games, the team allowed just six goals in 12 games.

Nigeria qualified for the World Cup by defeating Ethiopia twice in the final round of Africa's qualifiers. Nigeria is one of five African teams in the World Cup, including Ghana, the United States' first opponent in Brazil.

United States coach Jurgen Klinsmann noted last Friday at a news conference that Nigeria employs a style similar to Ghana's. Because of the similarities, he scheduled Nigeria for his team's final World Cup friendly on Saturday in Jacksonville, Fla.

Keshi said his primary focus isn't on the United States. He doesn't plan on catering his game plan specifically toward the Americans' weaknesses, instead choosing to focus on the larger picture with the World Cup coming soon.

"Playing the U.S. is part of the buildup toward the World Cup," Keshi said. "So whatever happens to the U.S. team isn't really our concern."

Nigeria is a member of Group F and will begin World Cup pool play against Iran on June 16.

Greece will compete in Group C in the World Cup. The team will conclude its preparation Saturday against Bolivia at Red Bull Arena in Harrison, N.J. before turning its attention to its World Cup opener against Colombia on June 14.

Greece qualified for Brazil by defeating Romania, 4-2, in aggregate goals over two games in European qualifying.

comments powered by Disqus