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Friendly Preview: Scotland VS Nigeria

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Friendly Preview: Scotland V Nigeria
Scotland - Nigeria | News Archive

Vogts is confident, but will he get the thumbs up from Scottish supporters? (Allsport)
04/16/2002. AT STAKE

As Scotland host one of Africa's best footballing nations, Nigeria, on Wednesday, it's remarkable to compare the forthcoming months for each party and the fact that they both have very different goals for the future.

The Scots have played just one game under new boss Berti Vogts and were well and truly thumped by World and European champions France. Having not qualified for WC2002, Scotland are looking towards the Euro 2004 qualifiers which begins in September as their next target, however those north of Hadrian Wall with longer memories will be longing for the days of Law, Johnstone, Bremner, Dalglish and Jordan and when qualification for major tournaments was not only expected, it was almost a bi-annual occurance.

Nigeria in contrast have, along with other African nations, burst onto the international scene over the last decade or so, and whilst we may yet be a little while away from one such side winning the World Cup, we are gradually getting closer. New coach Adegboye Onigbinde's side are looking ahead to Japan and Korea with great delight having been drawn in the so-called Group of Death, along with Sweden, Argentina, and Scotland Auld Enemy, England - hence this friendly clash in Aberdeen.


Scotland: WDDLWL: Just two wins in their last six outings, and those against the likes of San Marino and Latvia, spells out the immense job ahead for Berti Vogts. Despite managing creditable draws in Poland and Croatia during the WC qualifiers, their inability to hold a two-goal lead against a ten-man Belgium side at home cost them badly. Since the resignation of Craig Brown last October, the Scots have played just once under Vogts - a 5-0 hammering at the hands of France three weeks ago.

Nigeria: DWWLWD: Having clinched third placed in the African Nations Cup three months ago, losing just one game in the tournament, Nigeria then draw with South American side Paraguay last month, with Jay Jay Okocha scoring a late equaliser from the penalty spot. Goalscoring appears to be a problem for them having not managed more than one goal per game in any of their six African Nations Cup games, although they were by no means on their own on that count.


Scotland boss Berti Vogts has been hit with a rash of withdraws after Dominic Matteo, Paul Dickov, Neil Sullivan, Barry Ferguson and Stephen Hughes, all ruled themselves out through injury. Gareth Williams is also a doubt and its thought that 18-year old Hibs striker, Gary O'Connor, could start the game up front. Rob Douglas looks set for a first cap in goal with Sullivan sidelined whilst Robbie Stockdale and Graham Alexander are also in line for a first ever appearance.

Nigeria only arrived in Aberdeen late on Monday evening and have a squad of 30 players to choose from, however omitted from the selection are regulars such as Sunday Oliseh, Taribo West, Finidi George, Tijani Babangida, Garba Lawal, Victor Agali and keeper Ike Shorunmu, all of whom have fallen out of favour for varying reasons with new coach Onigbinde.


Scotland have a number of players injured, either short or long term, leaving the door open for youngsters and newcomers. Graham Alexander has had an excellent season for Preston in the English first division, whilst Robbie Stockdale and Allan Johnston have had similar with Middlesbrough in the Premiership.

Nigeria have a number of players with experience in England or currently based there, including Celestine Babayaro, Nwanko Kanu, Taribo West and Finidi George, however the latter two are not included in the trip to Glasgow, leaving Kanu as the main one with a bit of a point to prove having failed to nail down a first team spot at Arsenal this season. The gangly striker can be awesome on his day, but remains a little too inconsistent for his own good.


A tricky one to call as the result comes almost second place to the performances of the players involved. The Scots will be looking to impress their new coach whilst the Nigerians are playing for a place in the biggest football competition on the planet. Neither nation are known for scoring on a regular basis and a 0-0 draw would be no major surprise.
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Thursday, April 18, 2002
Eagles educate Vogts' fledglings
By Brian Scott

Scotland 1 - 2 Nigeria
It wasn't all bad for Berti Vogts at Pittodrie last night, despite Scotland's failure to build on the promising start given them by Christian Dailly in this friendly with Nigeria.

Dailly's effort loops into the net
The new manager was bound to have seen signs of progress from his fledgling side after the humbling experience of losing 5-0 to France in Paris last month.

Vogts used the occasion to blood no fewer than seven international novices, although none of them made quite the same impression as Julius Aghahowa did with his two goals for the Africans.

The Ukraine- based player scored either side of the interval, celebrating each time with an amazing series of somersaults which contrived to endear him to the home crowd.

The suspicion beforehand was that, if Nigeria chose to extend themselves, the Scots would have problems keeping their fans happy. But, in the event, Dailly's early goal, only his second at this level, sharpened everybody's sense of anticipation.

Steven Thompson had gone close with a clipped effort on the volley, following a good move involving Robbie Stockdale and Kevin McNaughton, when Scot Gemmill flighted a corner over from the right flank.

Dailly, possibly surprised at the amount of room afforded him in the Nigerians' penalty box, met the ball powerfully with his head and steered it into the corner of Austin Ejide's net to give Scotland a seventh-minute lead.

Would there be a quick response from the opposition, who selected this match - among others - as a means of preparing to play England in Japan this summer? Jay Jay Okocha answered the question with a stinging drive which Rab Douglas held cleanly.

Yet Scotland, with Gareth Williams having settled into the so-called holding role in midfield, looked largely unflustered as they utilised crisp, passing movements.

Williams was just one of the four new caps with whom they started, Douglas, Stockdale and McNaughton being the others, while Thompson's only experience at this level was as a substitute in the recent French debacle.

The Dundee United striker, alas, found himself in the wrong place when Nigeria's goalkeeper dropped a cross by McCann, otherwise he might have been able to underpin his side's advantage.

A better opportunity came his way midway through the first half, when Paul Lambert sent him clear of the opposition's defence, but he contrived to pull his shot wide.

It was thereabouts that Nwankwo Kanu, who had been trying to exert an influence from a more central area, opted to push forward for the first time and test Douglas's nerve and reflexes.

How well the Arsenal player struck his shot, extending the Celtic goalkeeper to the degree that he ended up tipping the ball one- handed round the post to earn the applause of fans and team-mates alike.

Nigeria, it seemed, were warming to the challenge; an impression which became heightened when, from a free-kick by Okocha, Kanu went desperately close to equalising with an arcing header.

Bartholomew Ogbeche duly duped Stockdale to bring another good save from Douglas although, with 39 minutes gone, the latter had no way of preventing Julius Aghahowa from scoring.

Poor Crainey will not wish to be reminded of his culpability in that instance, having squandered possession and effectively set up the scorer when he would have wanted to keep the ball out of the danger area.

Aghahowa's celebration of the goal was something else, the Nigerian performing a series of somersaults as the Scots wondered what else they might have to contend with before the interval arrived.

They could reflect by that point on a good opening period, one in which Lambert, as well as Thompson, might have followed Dailly's example by scoring. It was just a pity they had allowed Nigeria to get into their stride when they did.

But it was with a fair measure of optimism that they went into the second half, with a fifth new cap, Graham Alexander, and Gary Caldwell on in place of Stockdale and Scot Gemmill respectively.

Caldwell promptly slotted into the deep-lying role which Williams had been performing, allowing the youthful Nottingham Forest player to attempt to find telling passes.

What a pass it was that Williams played to McCann who, dodging past an opponent, cracked in a shot which rebounded from goalkeeper Ejide. He swept another the width of the field, hoping to release McNaughton.

McNaughton, it should be said, helped introduce a bit of pace to the Scots' attack. So, too, did Thompson, although the athletic Nigerians, with Efe Sodje keen to over-lap on the right, were not lacking in that quality.

The Crewe Alexandra player, all the more conspicuous because of the green and white bandana on his head, had just made another good run when Scotland signalled the latest of their substitions.

Off went Williams, to an appreciative roar. On came the sixth debutant, Michael Stewart. But, with 68 minutes gone, the Africans conjured a goal out of nothing, substitute Pius Ikedia venturing down the right and sending in a cross which Aghahowa headed past Douglas.

The Nigerian treated the crowd to another series of flips, by way of toasting his latest success, while the Scots wondered how they'd been found so wanting in defence.

Could they possibly pull a goal back to recover respectability? Enter a seventh new cap, Garry O'Connor, with the Hibs teenager taking over from Thompson.

Alas, had McCann been able to round Ejide when faced with a oneon-one, or had McNaughton kept his crisp volley on target, the Scots could have restored parity. But defeat was no disgrace on an evening which provided genuine reasons for Scottish optimism.

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Don't care about the result, we actually played some passes and created some goal scoring opportunities. I may be in the minority of one but on most occassions I would be happier to make 20 chances and lose 3-0 than win 1-0 with our only shot on target.

Enjoyed watching McNaughton, Williams, Stewart and thought Rab Douglas looked the part (I've never really taken to Neil Sullivan after reading an interview where he said he doesn't have anything to do with football outside office hours, doesn't watch it or talk about it, it's just his job...)

Good old Aberdonians for supporting in numbers and creating an atmosphere. I would support the campaign to take the qualifiers on the road.
Yes indeed, Hampden is quite frankly too big for us, except for the big internationals. No longer will we be able to get more than 25,000 to games against the Faroes or San Marino, mainly due to ticket prices being a rip off. It would be great for them to hit the road like the '94 World Cup quals(?), simply because the atmosphere of a full Pittodre is far better than the same number at Hampden.

As for the result, well could have been better, but Nigeria are probably the best African nation if they can hold it together, & we are still getting to grips with the youngsters. McNaughton, Crainy & co will still be playing strong in 10 years (I hope to see the addition of Phil McGuire soon, & eventually Darren Fletcher of Man Utd, supposedly the most gifted Scot of the generation.

But the results don't matter until the Euro 2004 quals, & no matter what anyone else says, the continent needs the Tartan Army there! So Berti, do it for Europe!:D

I'll be delighted with 2nd place to be honest, but here's hoping the Germans are on the way down, for our good:)
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