Nigeria’s hoodoo against South American opposition continued when they were defeated 1-0 by Venezuela at the Al Salam Stadium in Cairo on Friday. Yonathan Del Valle’s goal on the stroke of half-time proved to be enough to defeat the Flying Eagles, who had been reduced to ten men five minutes earlier.


The game’s first chance came in the opening 30 seconds, when Lukman Haruna’s well-struck free-kick forced Rafael Romo into a low save. Five minutes later the Flying Eagles could have taken the lead when Odion Ighalo’s left-footed volley on the turn from 30 yards slipped through Romo’s hands, onto the crossbar and away to safety.

Yet despite Nigeria’s dominance in the early stages, it was the Vinotinto who should have opened the scoring as early as the 19th minute, when Del Valle had two chances within a 30 second period. He crashed a right footed shot against the post before forcing Oladele Ajiboye into a diving save to his left with a header ten yards from goal.

The tenor of the game changed in the 40th minute when Haruna was shown a straight red card by Roberto Rossetti for trodding on Francisco Flores. It took Venezuela just five minutes to make the numerical advantage count when Del Valle got in between Nigeria’s central defenders to poke home Louis Pena’s free-kick from close range.

Nigeria dominated the second half and created some wonderful opportunities. Five minutes after the restart, King Osanga saw his header hacked clear by Jose Manuel Velaquez. Shortly afterwards, Omatsone Aluko’s corner from the right was fired towards goal by substitute Ibok Edet, but Romo was able to deflect the ball on to the post.

Despite Nigeria’s possession and territorial advantage (61 % to 39% for Venezuela), they failed to test Romo sufficiently and visibly sank at the final whistle, while Venezuela and their colourful fans celebrated. Samson Siasia’s side must now attempt to pick up their first points of the competition against Spain on Monday, while Venezuela will be looking to make it two wins out of two when they face Tahiti.


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