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Bosnia out of WC as Nigeria end drought Referee wrong: Dzeko

CUIABA, Brazil, June 22, (AFP): Bosnia-Hercegovina’s maiden appearance at a World Cup finals ended in disappointment as Peter Odemwingie’s goal condemned them to a 1-0 defeat by African champions Nigeria in Cuiaba and ensured they could not qualify for the second round. Nigeria’s win, their first at a World Cup finals since 1998, leaves them as favourites to join Argentina in the second round. Argentina are on six points after beating Iran 1-0 earlier on Saturday to leave the Iranians on a point while the Nigerians are on four points. Nigeria play Argentina in their final group game on Thursday — the Africans have lost all three times they have previously played the South American side in the group stages, losing 1-0 on the last occasion in 2010.

Odemwingie, who has had his fair share of run ins with national coach Stephen Keshi, said the team had been painfully aware of the hiatus between wins. Bosnia coach Safet Susic, who started with just Dzeko up front despite saying after the opening defeat to Argentina he would play with two strikers, said that his side had been robbed of a goal by New Zealand referee Peter O’Leary. “I was told there was no offside but it’s not the first or last time a referee has made a bad decision at this World Cup and it won’t be the last,” said the 59-year-old. “We lost to a good side, Nigeria played better than against Iran.”

Nigeria were, as Susic attested to, a completely different team to the one that had barely got out of a Sunday morning stroll in the draw with Iran. Emmanuel Emineke always looked a threat and it was he who created the goal, as he burst down the right and engaged in a race for the ball with veteran Bosnian skipper Emir Spahic, who tried vainly to obstruct the Nigerian. However, the central defender had completely misjudged the situation as Emineke went the opposite side and outpaced him to collect the ball before unselfishly squaring it to Peter Odemwingie, with the Stoke City striker tucking the ball away. Bosnia had little to offer, though they could claim that they had been robbed of a goal as Edin Dzeko put the ball past Vincent Enyeama, but it was wrongly ruled out for offside.

Dzeko, though, could have stolen a point at the death when he rose to meet a corner but his downward header was straight at Enyeama, who gratefully smothered it. The Manchester City striker went even closer in time added on as his shot from inside the area beat Enyeama but cannoned back off the post. The referee whistled for fulltime shortly after that with the Bosnians collapsing to the ground in despair and the Nigerians jumping for joy as they — after the Ghanaians drew with Germany earlier on Saturday — restored pride to the African challenge at the finals. Meanwhile, Bosnia-Hercegovina striker Edin Dzeko laid the blame for their first round exit on the “shameful” referee in charge of the 1-0 loss to Nigeria in Cuiaba.

The Group F fixture was played out in stamina-sapping tropical conditions but Dzeko’s blood was boiling not from the clammy 30 degree temperature, but because of his first half goal disallowed for offside.
Replays showed that New Zealand referee Peter O’Leary and his line judge had got this decision wrong, with the Manchester City star clearly onside. His fellow English Premier League player, Stoke City’s Peter Odemwingie, gave Nigeria the decisive goal shortly after, which left the pointless tournament debutants heading home after their closing game against Iran next Wednesday.

Before boarding the team bus at the Arena Pantanal a disconsolate Dzeko, who hit the woodwork in stoppage time, vented his spleen against what he perceived as the massive injustice O’Leary had inflicted on the Balkan side. “Not only for the contentious ruling on his “goal”, but also for what the Bosnians felt was a foul by Nigeria’s Emmanuel Emenike on their captain Emir Spahic before his assist to Odemwingie for the decisive strike. Asked what had happened Dzeko railed: “The referee happened. “We are going home, we are sad because of that but the referee should go home too, because he changed the result, he changed the game, and that’s why we lost.

“We tried to come back after the goal where there was obviously a foul on our captain and before when I scored a goal it was not offside. “We fight until the end, but we didn’t have our luck today. ®In the first game we did everything, and Argentina beat us, but today we should have won this game. “Nigeria played good as well, but the referee was shameful for this competition.® Sejad Salihovic echoed Dzeko’s take on the game-changing ruling, the Hoffenheim captain saying: “What can you do? “He (Dzeko) was one metre onside. I have no clue what the linesman was seeing. If we were leading 1-0, they (Nigeria) would have had to chase us.® Dzeko’s fellow striker Vedad Ibisevic said elimination “hurt a lot”. “We wanted to get through the group stage,” the Stuttgart striker added.

Bosnia coach Safet Susic was more circumspect in his reaction to secondary school biology teacher O’Leary’s performance and this second successive loss in Brazil after their opening 2-1 defeat to Argentina. “We hit the woodwork in stoppage time, and if that had gone in and we’d been allowed that goal that would have changed the course of the match. “But I don’t have any recriminations, the players are all depressed and silent.” On the reasons for this tournament-ending reverse the former world class attacking midfielder reflected: “If our best players play at their best level we can beat anyone, if they don’t play at their best then we can’t. ®It was terrible weather, very hot and humid, and a bad pitch. Nigeria were good rivals — that’s why we lost.® Now Susic has the difficult job of picking up his demoralised squad up for the inconsequential closer against Iran. “We know that we are not going into the next round, but we will try to do our best in the next game,” pledged Dzeko.

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