Despite having the run of play for much of the match against a radically changed Japan side, Nigeria failed to make their opportunities pay as they were held to a 0-0 draw on Saturday in Victoria and will have to settle for the second spot in Group F. Both teams finish the opening stage on seven points from their three encounters, with the Japanese claiming the top of the table only on goals scored.
After a shaky start, the Flying Eagles asserted themselves on the match and had a handful of chances to bulge the net. Big striker Brown Ideye was the guiltiest party, missing the target on either side of half-time when he should have done better after being left unmarked in front of goal. Japan were happy to counterattack as the match wore on, and as Nigeria left themselves open at the back the Africans were saved by a trio of outstanding saves by goalkeeper - the third they've played in the finals thus far - Ikechukwu Ezenwa. With just five minutes to play, Japanese substitute Michihiro Yasuda just couldn't reach a header in front of goal when it looked like he might settle things once and for all. Nigeria had a final serious chance of their own near full time when Nduka Ozokwo flashed a shot from 20 yards just wide of the target.
The draw means Japan will stay in Victoria to face Group E runners-up Czech Republic on Wednesday 11 July, while Nigeria will now have to travel to Ottawa to face Group B runners-up Zambia the next day.