African champions Nigeria will meet Ukraine in Doetinchem in the FIFA World Youth Championship Netherlands 2005 last sixteen thanks to a comprehensive 3-0 triumph over Switzerland in their final Group F fixture. Chinedu Ogbuke, John Obi Mikel and captain Promise Isaac found the target as the Nigerians dominated in every area of the field.
Nigeria coach Samson Siasia made three changes to the side which lost to Korea Republic, restoring Isaac and handing starts to Olubayo Adefemi and John Owoeri. Swiss counterpart Pierre-André Schürmann kept faith with the line-up which lost only narrowly to Brazil.
After a cautious opening phase, the Nigerians eased into control on the quarter-hour. Isaac came closest with a 20th minute shot after artistically flipping the ball over Switzerland defender Philippe Senderos.
Chinedu Ogbuke drilled a 14-metre effort goalwards on the half-hour but keeper Swen König gathered at the second attempt. The European back four had their hands full dealing with their opponents' attacking drive, and König pulled off a brave save to thwart Isaac before Ogbuke headed wide with the goal beckoning. The Swiss failed to muster a single chance in the first 45 minutes as the half ended goalless.
Nigeria earn just reward
Johan Djourou was inches away from connecting with Reto Ziegler's free-kick as the Europeans finally created something resembling a chance, but the Nigerian response was swift and clinical: Isaac flicked a header to Ogbuke to hand his side a deserved 49th minute lead from the narrowest of angles. The Swiss raised their game and Tranquillo Barnetta's fine solo effort almost led to an equaliser, but the striker's shot slid agonisingly wide of the post. Ogbuke then failed to double his personal tally and his side's advantage from a near-identical position at the other end.
Switzerland were forced to up their attacking efforts but the extra space at the back invited Nigeria to break at speed. On 59 minutes, referee Oscar Ruiz pointed to the spot after Veroljub Salatic could only halt the outstanding Ogbuke with a foul. König beat out John Obi Mikel's initial effort, but the official ordered the kick to be retaken and Mikel made no mistake at the second time of asking.
Schürmann sent on local Twente Enschede hero Guilherme Afonso in a final attempt to wrest something from the match, and Barnetta almost pulled one back with a header, but there was to be no late Swiss rally of note as Nigeria held their shape and stifled their opponents' attacking moves in midfield. Isaac crowned a commendable display with a header from David Abwo's inviting centre to bring up the final 3-0 scoreline five minutes from time.
Observed Nigeria coach Siasia: "That was by no means easy today, especially in the first half. We went out there knowing we had to win, and we've succeeded."
The defeat spelled an early tournament exit for the Swiss. Analysed coach Schürmann: "Congratulations to Nigeria. They were the better team today. We never got to grips with the heat, although we can't be using that as an excuse. It's hard to accept we're out, but the important thing is for my players to learn from the experience."