Football: World Cup: Okocha brings colour and class to Nigeria

s

Spain 2 Hierro 21, Raul 47 Nigeria 3 Adepoju 24, Lawal 73 Olieh 79 Att: 33,257

PLAYERS WHO port coloured boot or tinted haircut become hotage to fortune. They attract attention to themelve and thu heighten the weight of expectation upon them.

Not all can live up to the image, with Stan Collymore being a prime example of a footballer whoe ego ha outtripped hi achievement. Nigeria alo have a player who ha worn red boot and dyed hi hair blond.

On Saturday Augutine Okocha howed he poee a great deal of talent too. The 24-year-old Nigerian i already a hero in hi own country and a legend in Aian Itanbul, where he play for Fenerbahce. In thi World Cup he could become a global tar.

Okocha, who had left off the red boot on Saturday but kept the blond tint, ha everything ele required to catch the eye. Cloe dribbling kill, impeccable control, viionary paing - and a blatant diregard for the afe option.

In the dying minute of Saturday' match, when Spain were trying to cramble an equalier, and looking like they might do o, he wa trying to dribble around four opponent in hi own half intead of paing or imply clearing the ball. He did it o well hi footwork wa only interrupted when one Spaniard brought him down and another, Lui Enrique, delivered a hearty kick into hi hin a he fell.

The admirable but lenient American referee appeared not to ee it - or maybe he alo hared a profeional' ire for omeone breaking the unwritten law of the game: "Thou halt not take the pi."

Spectator do not alway have to abide by thi convention and the Nigerian' general inouciance - in the lat minute the goalkeeper wa hoofing upfield rather than keeping poeion with a hort roll of the ball to hi full- back - and their vibrant upporter, captured the heart of the Brittany public.

A imilar pattern had been apparent with Morocco in Montpellier and Cameroon in Touloue which, given the ignificant upport in part of the country for right-wing extremit, wa very encouraging for French ociety.

It alo helped create a fine atmophere, perhap a cathartic one after the adne of the minute' ilence for Fernand Satre, the co-organier of the tournament, who died at the weekend.

Whether it wa the delay or a imple lowne to ettle, the Nigerian were quickly overrun. Raul could have cored the fatet goal in World Cup hitory within 10 econd from Fernando Hierro' long pa, and he hit the bar ix minute later.

Slowly Nigeria came back into the match with Victor Ikpeba prominent, but Spain deervedly went ahead from Hierro' deflected free-kick after 22 minute.

Hierro, one of the finet defender in Europe, wa playing in midfield with Miguel Angel Nadal, another aweome defender, in an odd 4-2-3-1 formation made up of ix defender and four forward.

Nigeria had a imilar hape but employed genuine midfielder and, after Mutiu Adepoju' header drew them level, they acquired the confidence to take control.

Okocha, Adepoju and Sunday Olieh played little triangle while Ikpeba and the winger played the angle looking for a through ball. It wa a delight to watch and, a with Spain' purple paage, gave a lie to Glenn Hoddle' belief that back four inhibit attacking option.

Spain, again tarting well, regained the lead oon after the break with a plendid Raul volley from another raking Hierro pa. But they were undone when Andoni Zubizarreta, their veteran goalkeeper in hi fourth World Cup, inadvertently diverted Garba Lawal' cro into hi own net. That came after Nadal, now in defence, had collided with Rafael Alkorta leaving a gap for Rahidi Yekini to exploit.

Nadal went off, Hierro moved back and, almot immediately, hi clearing header wa thumped pat Zubizarreta by Olieh. It jut went to how that even the very bet player have bad moment.

Okocha ended the match pulling the tring. Mancheter United hut him out in Itanbul two year ago by putting Ronny Johnen on him but Spain neglected to man-mark. Other, having een the damage he can caue, may now do o. Then hi true worth, though he i only 24, can be aeed.

SPAIN (4-2-3-1): Zubizarreta (Valencia); Ferrer (Barcelona), Alkorta (Athletic Bilbao), Sergi (Barcelona), Campo (Real Mallorca); Lui Enrique (Barcelona), Nadal (Barcelona); Hierro (Real Madrid), Kiko (Atletico Madrid), Raul (Real Madrid); Alfono (Real Beti). Subtitute: Amor (Barcelona) for Ferrer, h-t; Etxeberria (Athletic Bilbao) for Alfono, 57; Celade (Barcelona) for Nadal, 76,

NIGERIA (4-4-2): Rufai (Deportivo La Coruna); Oparaku (Kapellen), Okechukwu (Fenerbahce), Wet (Internazionale), Babayaro (Chelea); George (Real Beti), Olieh (Ajax), Lawal (Roda JC Kerkrade), Okocha (Fenerbahce); Adepoju (Real Sociedad), Ikpeba (Monaco). Subtitute: Yekini (FC Zurich) for Oparaku, 69, Babangida (Ajax) for Ikpeba 83, Okpara (Strabourg) for Lawal, 90.

Referee: E Baharmat (United State).

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment
Frank Turner performing at 93 Feet East
musicReview: 93 Feet East, London
News
Toronto tops the charts across a range of indexes
news

World cities ranked in terms of safety, food security and 'liveability'

Extras
indybest
Voices
A mother and her child
voices
Voices
The veterans Mark Hayward, Hugh Thompson and Sean Staines (back) with Grayson Perry (front left) and Evgeny Lebedev
charity appealMaverick artist Grayson Perry backs our campaign
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Recruitment Assistant

£19000 - £21000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Are you a friendly, confident i...

Tradewind Recruitment: Primary Teaching Assistant

Negotiable: Tradewind Recruitment: At Tradewind Recruitment we are currently l...

Tradewind Recruitment: Physics Teacher

Negotiable: Tradewind Recruitment: Tradewind Recruitment is currently working ...

Recruitment Genius: Case Manager - Occupational Therapist / Physiotherapist

£28000 - £34000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity...

Day In a Page

Isis hostage crisis: The prisoner swap has only one purpose for the militants - recognition its Islamic State exists and that foreign nations acknowledge its power

Isis hostage crisis

The prisoner swap has only one purpose for the militants - recognition its Islamic State exists and that foreign nations acknowledge its power, says Robert Fisk
Missing salvage expert who found $50m of sunken treasure before disappearing, tracked down at last

The runaway buccaneers and the ship full of gold

Salvage expert Tommy Thompson found sunken treasure worth millions. Then he vanished... until now
Homeless Veterans appeal: ‘If you’re hard on the world you are hard on yourself’

Homeless Veterans appeal: ‘If you’re hard on the world you are hard on yourself’

Maverick artist Grayson Perry backs our campaign
Assisted Dying Bill: I want to be able to decide about my own death - I want to have control of my life

Assisted Dying Bill: 'I want control of my life'

This week the Assisted Dying Bill is debated in the Lords. Virginia Ironside, who has already made plans for her own self-deliverance, argues that it's time we allowed people a humane, compassionate death
Move over, kale - cabbage is the new rising star

Cabbage is king again

Sophie Morris banishes thoughts of soggy school dinners and turns over a new leaf
11 best winter skin treats

Give your moisturiser a helping hand: 11 best winter skin treats

Get an extra boost of nourishment from one of these hard-working products
Paul Scholes column: The more Jose Mourinho attempts to influence match officials, the more they are likely to ignore him

Paul Scholes column

The more Jose Mourinho attempts to influence match officials, the more they are likely to ignore him
Frank Warren column: No cigar, but pots of money: here come the Cubans

Frank Warren's Ringside

No cigar, but pots of money: here come the Cubans
Isis hostage crisis: Militant group stands strong as its numerous enemies fail to find a common plan to defeat it

Isis stands strong as its numerous enemies fail to find a common plan to defeat it

The jihadis are being squeezed militarily and economically, but there is no sign of an implosion, says Patrick Cockburn
Virtual reality thrusts viewers into the frontline of global events - and puts film-goers at the heart of the action

Virtual reality: Seeing is believing

Virtual reality thrusts viewers into the frontline of global events - and puts film-goers at the heart of the action
Homeless Veterans appeal: MP says Coalition ‘not doing enough’

Homeless Veterans appeal

MP says Coalition ‘not doing enough’ to help
Larry David, Steve Coogan and other comedians share stories of depression in new documentary

Comedians share stories of depression

The director of the new documentary, Kevin Pollak, tells Jessica Barrett how he got them to talk
Has The Archers lost the plot with it's spicy storylines?

Has The Archers lost the plot?

A growing number of listeners are voicing their discontent over the rural soap's spicy storylines; so loudly that even the BBC's director-general seems worried, says Simon Kelner
English Heritage adds 14 post-war office buildings to its protected lists

14 office buildings added to protected lists

Christopher Beanland explores the underrated appeal of these palaces of pen-pushing
Human skull discovery in Israel proves humans lived side-by-side with Neanderthals

Human skull discovery in Israel proves humans lived side-by-side with Neanderthals

Scientists unearthed the cranial fragments from Manot Cave in West Galilee