Nigeria kept up their nerve in a do-or-die final match of Group C at the FIFA Beach Soccer World Cup in Ravenna, Italy. With both sides needing a win to move on to the knockout stages of the competition, the West Africans, playing in their fourth Beach Soccer finals, were able to ride out a 4-1 result.
The first period ended scoreless, a surprise as both sides created a number of chances in front of goal. Nigeria controlled possession and the tempo of the opening exchanges, but the Oceania representatives – playing in their first-ever Beach Soccer world finals – looked dangerous on the counter-attack.
The goals finally came in the second period, with the Nigerians opening up what seemed a comfortable lead. Victor Tale opened the scoring with a clever lob before Tahitian player-coach Teva Zaveroni tied it up with a fierce strike. Further goals from Tale and Musa Najare saw Nigeria increase their lead 3-1 by the close of the second period.
Not much changed in the third and final period, but Ogbonnaya Okemmiri did add one more goal to see the Africans win out 4-1, a result that flattered. Nigeria will now move on to play Group D winner Brazil on 8 September in the quarter-finals, while debutants Tahiti head for home with their heads held high.