Nigeria overcame the driving rain to beat France on penalties
(3-3, 3-2 pso) in Group D in the last match of the day at the FIFA
Beach Soccer World Cup 2007.
Both teams took a while to get into the game. France's Laurent Castro had two chances early on, but the first was saved by Isa Abdullahi and the second, a lob, ended up an inch or two over the bar. It took a mistake by Jean-Marie Aubry for the first goal to come, the French keeper dropping a corner and leaving Uga Okpara with the simplest of tasks.
Castro and Aubry made up for their poor starts in the second period, the former equalising with his first goal of the tournament, the latter pulling off a number of stunning saves. Okpara was on fine form as well, however, and scored his second of the match via a deflection off Jean Saidou to give the Nigerians the lead once again.
Jeremy Basquaise had two chances to get Les Bleus back on level terms at the start of the third period but Isa kept out the French captain's penalty and subsequent free kick. Suleman Usman looked to have sealed victory for the Beach Eagles with a third goal but Eric Cantona's men were not beaten yet. In the final minute, Stephane Francois and captain Basquaise scored to snatch a lifeline for the French. The extra three minutes were not enough to find a winner, however, and so it went to a penalty shoot-out, with Didier Samoun missing his crucial spot-kick.
The Nigerians now have their quarter-final spot sewn up, while France will face Argentina in their final group match where it will be a case of winner takes all.