The European’s put in an spirited performance but were left ruing a disallowed Edin Dzeko goal after being wrongly flagged for offside after beating Vincent Enyeama in the 20th minute and firing in. Nigeria had Peter Odemwingie to thank for their 1-0 lead after the striker ended their nine match wait for a win at a World Cup tournament when Emmanuel Emenike out muscled Ivan Spahic in the 23rd minute to cross from the right flank and set up his strike partner.
Bosnia coach Safet Susic lined up with a familiar looking 4-2-3-1 formation which he deployed against Argentina with Zvjezdan Misimovic deployed wide on the left wing allowing the Roma star to move further up field in the favoured in the no.10 role behind striker Edin Dzeko, where he could be granted creative licence. Haris Medunjanin was also chosen in midfield as Senad Lulic dropped to left back in place of Sead Kolasnic. Nigeria did make changes too, as they looked to improve on a goalless 0-0 draw against Iran last time out. Peter Odemwingie was chosen to lead the attack with Emenike and Michele Babatunde was selected as an attacking midfielder. In defence Godfrey Oboabona was deemed fit to start after picking up a knock against Iran, and Josef Yobo was granted a first start at this summer’s tournament.
The draw leaves Nigeria only needing a point in their final game against Argentina to seal automatic qualification for the knockout stage of the tournament.
Bosnia started the game immediately under pressure from the Nigerians as they were sloppy in possession and Emenike was granted the chance to test Asmir Begovic’s goal in the early moments and Haris Medunjanin hauled down the forward to give away a cheap free kick and Odemwingie fired a the resulting chance wide.
Bosnia came close themselves when Muhamed Besic curled an effort over the crossbar and Nigeria continued the fast paced action with a rapid counter at the other end with Ahmed Musa losing possession through sloppy play.
Susic’s decision to stick with a 4-2-3-1formation, rather than use Bosnia’s tried and trusted 4-4-2 style often seen in qualification with Vedad Ibisevic partnering Dzeko upfront, arguably cost his team in this points in this match. With Lulic operating at left-back perhaps the coach was trying to nullify Efe Ambrose’s threat from right-back, however, Bosnia looked lopsided and played to little effect as Pjanic was unable to dictate tempo.
Their best chances came midway through the first half when they picked holes through Nigeria’s backline on the counter and find Dzeko in space where he could deal out damage. It would prove to be effective when Dzeko broke through in the 20th minute and was one-on-one with an onrushing Enyeama before calmly slotting past the ‘keeper and the striker thought he had given Bosnia a 1-0 lead. However, it was not to be as the linesman had incorrectly flagged for offside and the game remained at 0-0.
Nigeria soon responded when Emenike burst down the right and outmuscled Spahic in the penalty area before crossing to find Odemwingie on the left who converted to give the Africans an impressive 1-0 lead and break Bosnian hearts.
There was much protest from the Bosnian players and coaching staff as they felt that Emenike had fouled Spahic in the build up by clipping his heels and they could have every right to feel aggrieved.
The second half continued with Nigeria content to sit back and absorb Bosnian pressure in search of a goal.
Bosnian coach Susic turned to striker Ibisevic in an attempt to level the scores and the forward had a headed effort saved from a corner with only 15 minutes remaining on the clock. It was perhaps Bosnia’s best chance to steal something from the game.
Edin Dzeko wasn’t finished however, as he had one headed effort saved before Enyeama pulled off a smart save with his foot to deny the Manchester City striker in the closing moments and tip a shot onto the post.
Nigeria will be satisfied with their 1-0 win which grants them the chance to progress to the knockout stage in their next fixture, whilst Bosnia will feel aggrieved over officiating decisions, they will view this tournament as a good experience.
Follow Ryan Ross on Twitter: @rross11