The match between Nigeria and Tahiti in the Fifa Confederations Cup started on a confident note for both continental champions. It was the first match between the two sides and the Super Eagles knew it was theirs to take from the blast of the whistle.
A hat-trick from Nnamdi Oduamadi, a brace from Uwah Echiejile, an own goal from Jonathan Tehau, who also got the South Pacific Islanders’ much celebrated solitary goal projected Nigeria to the top of Group B.
Coach Stephen Keshi maintained his 4-3-3 formation with Oduamadi, Ahmed Musa and Anthony Ujah in the fore front. The Estadio Mineirao Stadium was the pinnacle of world football for the Tahiti team, ranked 138th in the world and they attacked the Africans first after Vincent Simon cut inside on to his right foot and fired a low shot which posed no threat to goalkeeper Vincent Enyeama.
But the fortunes immediately turned against the underdogs in the 5th minute. Echiejile fired in a shot from 20 yards that took two huge deflections off the Tahitian defenders before spooning into the net.
Every thought of bouncing back from one goal ended in Enyeama’s safe hands as the Maccabi Tel Aviv keeper steadily tipped Maram Vahirua’s shot over the top.
The Oceania champions were two goals down in the 10th minute for leaving their defence wide open and loosing the ball 30 yards from goal as all of a sudden Oduamadi made his way through into the open defence, after sidestepping the last man, he clipped the ball over the goalkeeper.
Ahmed came close to making it 3-0 when he skipped through the heart of the defence, beautifully kept his balance to round keeper Xavier Samin, but then kicked his own foot with the goal-mouth wide open to be fed with the ball.
John Obi Mikel took a free-kick 10 minutes after the second goal which swung over the wall and floated just inches over the bar. The Tahitians kept faith and piled up front, but couldn’t really make any good out of their attack.
They were left reeling behind by 3 goals in the 26th minute- Musa freed himself down the left wing and puts over a low cross which goalkeeper Samin completely fluffed, dropping at the feet of Oduamadi who simply slotted it into the net.
The Tahitian goalkeeper soon redeemed himself 4 minutes later when Ujah decided to round him with oceans of Eagles attackers waiting to be fed in, but lost the ball to the now ready hands of Samin.
Sunday Mba had the chance to increase the tally in the 39th minute but lost his footing and fell at the vital minute of the attack into Samin. Steevy Chong Hue was a ghost in the Nigerian area in the 43rd minute with a late burst to meet a cracking cross from Ricky Aitamai on the right, but couldn’t direct the ball to the goal before the referee Joel Aguilar signaled the interval.
The second half got underway with the Super Eagles dictating play once again, just five minutes into the second half, Keshi was already furious for a poor finish from Musa after Oduamadi delivered the ball from the left to the winger.
If you had thought Tahiti was never going to score, they made you think again in the 54th minute. A deep delivery from a corner got to Jonathan Tehau, who rose above Efe Ambrose to slam home a header. The players celebrated en-masse to the delight of the partisan Brazilian supporters in the scanty stadium.
The minnows almost got back in the game; however, they did boss the eagles around and kept the ball neatly in the midfield while pushing their men forward for a short spell.
Oduamadi thought he had completed his hat-trick in the 68th minute, but the goal was disallowed for an offside. The real deal came in the 69th minute after the Tahitians lost possession in their own half, Oduamadi beats his man and puts it across the face of goal where Tehau turns it into his own net for an own goal.
Seven minutes later, substitute Brown Ideye busted clear down the right and played the correct ball to Oduamadi who clinically slotted it into the net for his hat-trick. Goalkeeper Samin spilled the ball back into the area and Echiejile arrived immediately to scuff the ball home from six yards in the 80th minute.
Tahiti won so many friends for their canoe celebration and succeeded in matching the Eagles for 15 minutes in the second half. The manner with which they lost control early on in the first half, their shabby passes and poor control of the ball resulted to a 6-1 trouncing by the African champions.