Football: Nigeria give notice with show of power: World Cup

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The Independent Online
Bulgaria. 0

Nigeria. .3

NIGERIA showed all the style, pace and panache associated with the modern African game in destroying Bulgaria's hopes of securing their first victory in their sixth appearance in the World Cup finals.

Goals by Rashidi Yekini, Daniel Amokachi and Emmanuel Amunike allowed the Nigerians to control their opening Group D match at the Cotton Bowl in Dallas.

It might have been different if either Emil Kostadinov or Hristo Stoichkov had capitalised on early chances the Bulgarians created on the break as the African champions committed themselves to attack but once Yekini had opened the scoring after 21 minutes there was little doubt about the outcome.

Finidi George, a constant threat down the right, set up Yekini with a simple goal, keeping his head after cutting in and playing the ball square to Nigeria's leading scorer.

Bulgaria's response was disjointed but they had a shot by Yordan Lechkov cleared off the line and had the ball in the net in the 37th minute when Stoichkov swept a left-footed free-kick into the top corner from 30 yards. He had not realised the kick was indirect and gained nothing but admiration for his effort.

Two minutes before the interval, and just after Amunike had languidly driven a 25-yard shot against Boris Mikhailov's far post, the Nigerians doubled their lead. Yekini again exposed the Bulgarians on the right and Amokachi fought Zlatko Yankov off the ball to score.

Amunike headed in the third 10 minutes after the interval when George caught the Bulgarians napping by crossing the ball back in from the right after Mikhailov had blocked Yekini in full flight.

BULGARIA (1-3-4-2): Mikhailov (Mulhouse); Hubchev (Levski Sofia); Kremenliev (Levski Sofia), Ivanov (Neuchatel Xamax), Zvetanov (Levski Sofia); Balakov (Sporting Lisbon), Yankov (Levski Sofia), Lechkov (Hamburg), Borimirov (Leski Sofia); Stoichkov (Barcelona), Kostadinov (Porto). Substitutes: Sirakov (Levski Sofia) for Lechkov, 58; Iordanov (Sporting Lisbon) for Borimirov, 72.

NIGERIA (4-4-3): Rufai (Go Ahead Eagles); Eguavoen (Kortrijk), Iroha (Vitesse Arnhem), Nwanu (Anderlecht), Okechukwu (Fenerbahce); George (Ajax), Oliseh (Reggiana), Siasia (Nantes); Amokachi (Club Bruges), Yekini (Olympiakos), Amunike (MSV Duisburg). Substitutes: Adepoju (Racing Santander) for Siasia, 68; Ezeugo (Kispest Honved) for George, 77.

Referee: R Badilla Sequeira (Costa Rica).