Scotland lost out to Nigeria and could well be heading home after their final game against Costa Rica on Saturday. Ezekiel Bala was the scorer of both second half goals to give Nigeria 6 points and secure qualification to the second round. Scotland coach Archie Gemmill made four changes to the side that capitulated against Japan. While Andrew McNeil rather surprisingly retained his place in goal, Gemmill gave starts to Ryan O'Leary, Andrew Considine, Ross Campbell and Robert Snodgrass. Scotland were named as the home team today as they took on the Flying Eagles of Nigeria and so took to Royal Athletic Park in their traditional dark blue strips. Unfortunately a change of strip did not bring about a change in fortune.
Scotland were more positive in the opening exchanges than on Sunday but were not able to gain much procession in the first 10 minutes. They were quicker to close down the attacks from the Nigerians who were quick and strong as we have come to expect from African sides. McNeil was still able to give Scotland fans some health scares with his spectacularly poor clearances from pass backs but on on 18 minutes he did show why he was kept in the side. Solomon Owello crossed the ball from the right and Brown Ideye sent in a near post header that McNeil did well to turn round the post for a corner. Campbell did have a chance to get on the score sheet again as he received a ball in space about 10 yards out on the right. Unfortunately his shot did not trouble Olufemi Thomas in the Nigeria goal. It was that man Ideye again who brought out another fine save from McNeil with 6 minutes to go to half time. With Scotland committed to attack, Nigeria took advantage of an interception to feed Ideye as he ran in on goal. His powerful shot was tipped round the left hand post by McNeil. Two minutes later Blessing Okardi allowed McNeil another chance to shine when he took a powerful shot from outside the box which the 'keeper managed to push away.
The second half kicked off as the sun was setting in the second half which meant that the whole ground was in shadow. Moses Adams came on for Nigeria just after the whistle blew for the second half so Scotland re-started the game against 10 men. Not that it bothered them as they scored within 3 minutes thanks to Bala who shot through McNeil's legs from close range. This boosted the Nigerian's already high confidence and they continued to press Scotland to get a second. Their willingness to shoot on sight was always a danger. While Scotland did have their moments, you never really felt that a goal would come. Procession looked to be about 50/50 but this was mostly in Scotland's half. In the 76 minute Scotland broke out in numbers led by a powerful run from Snodgrass but the move came to nothing apart from an opportunity for Nigeria to head back up the field and finally score their second goal. Latifu sent in a powerful shot which McNeil could only parry onto an in-rushing Bala to score his and Nigeria's second goal. The last five minutes of the game were played with 21 players on the pitch as Nigeria's Akeem Ambrose was sent off for his second yellow card. Scotland could not take advantage of their numerical superiority and Nigeria continued to be the more likely to score. Lee Wallace nearly got a consolation goal in the last few minutes after his close range shot from a cross was save by Thomas. Just a minute later Graham Dorrans also missed a golden chance to head the ball into the net to give Scotland's goal difference a better look. As extra time approached, Scotland were putting pressure on the Nigerian goal but could not find a way past a packed defence. And so another game over and another loss. Scotland need a cricket score against Costa Rica to stand any chance of staying in Canada for the next round.
Scotland: McNeil, Wallace, Adams (McGinchley 62m), Cuthbert, Reynolds, Elliot, Fletcher, O'Leary, Considine, Campbell (Dorrans 62m), Snodgrass (Conroy 78m)
Subs not used: Cave-Brown, Fox, Kelly, Gilmour, Lowing, Lynch, Kenneth
Yellow card: Adams
Nigeria: Thomas, Sodiq, Echiejile, Olufemi, Ambrose, Bala, Owello (Ozokwo 65m), Okardi (Adams 46m), Akabueze (Kofarmata 67m), Ideye, Latifu
Subs not used: Ayodeji, Agebtu, Ocheje, Egbeta, Inuwa, Salami, Ezenwa
Yellow card: Ambrose
Red card: Ambrose
Goal: Bala (2)
Referee: Vaughn (USA)
Ger Harley (ger@scottishfitba net)
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