Ruthless Nigeria find World Cup inspiration

Nigeria 2 Jamaica 0
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The Independent Football

The Nigeria coach, Christian Chukwu, believes his team's triumph in the Unity Cup yesterday will give them a vital edge ahead of the forthcoming World Cup qualifiers.

The African side retained their title here after a 2-0 win over Jamaica, which gave them an unassailable lead in the round-robin tournament following Saturday's 3-0 defeat of the Republic of Ireland.

Nigeria now take on Rwanda in Lagos on Saturday as they attempt to qualify for the 2006 World Cup in Germany. Chukwu said: "I think this win will give us added motivation. Winning matches like this should definitely help the team. I was pleased that the players were given such a tough test, because when we get back to Africa, that is the kind of match we will face in the World Cup qualifiers."

Jamaica began impressively, with Ricardo Gardner forcing Sunday Rotimi's first save of the afternoon in the third minute. However, as the game progressed, they failed to convert a series of chances into goals.

Nigeria were more ruthless, John Utaka putting them 1-0 up in the 17th minute after running down the right and firing low across the goal to beat the goalkeeper, Ian Goodison.

Utaka set up Nigeria's second, charging from the halfway line before passing the ball to Bartholomew Ogbeche, who lobbed Goodison.

Ogbeche, who also scored twice in Saturday's 3-0 over the Republic of Ireland, was keen to emphasise the quality of Nigeria's all-round play. "This is a great victory, and it was due to the whole team," he said. "I also think that the coach did an excellent job in preparing us for this match, and we must thank him for that. Yes, I scored three goals in two games, but it is important to underline that everyone did a great job."

The Jamaica coach, Carl Brown, must now attempt to lift his team for the final match of the competition, against Ireland at The Valley tomorrow, but Brown believes that taking on internationally established teams like Nigeria can only serve to improve his own side.

"You saw that Nigeria were much hungrier than we were, and they put exactly the same amount of effort in as they did on Saturday," he said. "Even when they were 3-0 up in that game, they kept doing what they had to do and stuck to it. It's good to watch teams play with that level of professionalism, and it can only help us for the future."

Goals: Utaka (17) 1-0; Ogbeche (55) 2-0.

NIGERIA (4-4-2): Rotimi; Adamu, Olajengbesi, Enakarhire, Utaka; Obodo, Lawal, Baita (Showumni, 90), Ogbeche (Dayo, 90); Obiefule, Ekwueme.

JAMAICA (4-4-2): Goodison; King, Hyde (Whitmore 83), Johnson (Chin-Sue, 76), Gardner; Langley (Neil, 64), Reid (Stewart, 86), Lisbie, F Davis; C Davis, Ricketts.

Referee: S Bennett (Eng).

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