Nigeria vs Bosnia and Herzegovina World Cup 2014: Newcomers find out World Cup can be a cruel place

Edin Dzeko has goal wrongly disallowed and hit the post late on in defeat

They were heroes before a ball had even been kicked but Safet Susic’s pioneering Bosnia team have just discovered the truth about the World Cup: it can be a cruel place.

Beaten by a piece of Lionel Messi brilliance in their opening fixture, Bosnia suffered elimination after a second Group F defeat on Saturday against Nigeria in a match where Edin Dzeko had a goal wrongly disallowed and struck a post in injury time.

The match officials’ decision to rule out Dzeko’s 20th-minute strike was a pivotal moment that went against the Balkan side, according to Susic. “Had they allowed the goal, this would probably have changed the match,” said the coach. “I was told there was no offside. But this is not the first or last refereeing mistake, not just at the World Cup or elsewhere.”

Susic once again started with just Dzeko up front – with fellow striker Vedad Ibisevic taking the field 11 minutes into the second half – and he lamented his side’s lethargic display, summed up when Dzeko scuffed an injury time shot that struck Nigeria goalkeeper Vincent Enyeama and bounced on to a post.

“They are all depressed, disappointed, silent,” he said of his team, adding: “You see what kind of chances we wasted, like the one in stoppage time. If our players don’t play at their usual level, it is normal for us to not beat teams of the approximately the same quality.”

As for Nigeria, they have endured plenty of frustrations on the world stage – including an opening goalless draw with Iran – but Saturday’s narrow success left them in sight of the second round for the first time since 1998. The Super Eagles had won none of their eight previous World Cup fixtures since the first round at France 98 but finally ended that drought thanks to Peter Odemwingie’s first-half winning goal.

Bosnia complained that Odeminwingie had fouled their captain Emir Spahic in the build-up but the goal stood and Nigeria duly moved on to four points in second place in Group F behind Argentina.

“It’s been 16 years and no wins for our country so we are very excited,” said Nigeria coach Stephen Keshi. “Victories affect people in different ways so we are looking up now and if we get into the second round anything can happen.”

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