Coach Stephen Keshi feels his Nigeria side delivered a victory for all of Africa after Peter Odemwingie’s goal put the Super Eagles on the brink of reaching the World Cup knockout stages.
The Stoke striker’s smart first-half finish decided a 1-0 win over Bosnia-Herzegovina in Cuiaba and the result, while eliminating the Europeans from the tournament, sees Nigeria well-placed to progress from Group F.
A point from Wednesday’s meeting with Argentina – 1-0 winners over Iran earlier yesterday thanks to Lionel Messi’s late goal – would be enough for second place. Victory would see Nigeria go one better and grab top spot.
And with West African neighbours Ivory Coast and Ghana also making a big impression in Brazil, Nigeria boss Keshi is determined to make sure his team are among the continent’s representatives in the last 16.
He told FIFA.com: “Everybody is happy in West Africa; Ghana got their result (2-2 draw with Germany) and we won.
“It’s good for the continent.
“The fighting spirit we showed was good. I never thought that we wouldn’t make the round of 16. I have the players.
“But look at Iran today, if it was not for Lionel Messi. We need to work hard for the game against Argentina.”
Match-winner Odemwingie, who tucked away Emmanuel Emenike’s cross shortly before the half-hour mark, credited his colleagues for sticking together to secure all three vital points at the Arena Pantanal.
“The goal means a lot to me,” he said. “But the win was down to 90 minutes of concentration and effort from my team-mates.
“The most important thing today was the character. We even enjoyed defending together.
“I don’t know anyone who doesn’t love this country. Playing for my fatherland is an honour and a pleasure.
“I didn’t expect to score a winner in such an important game, I’m very happy.
“But this was a point the team earned. Right now I’m so high on our team’s performance.”
Safet Susic, the Bosnia coach, rued his players’ failure to convert numerous scoring chances – Edin Dzeko came very close to notching at the death – but made sure to congratulate Keshi and Nigeria for their accomplishment.
Having guided the Golden Lilies to the World Cup finals for the first time in the young nation’s history, Susic will return home early with his squad whatever the outcome of Wednesday’s clash with Iran in Salvador.
He said: “The match unfolded exactly the way I imagined. It was an open game, two teams wishing to win, lots of chances at either end.
“We had a lot of chances and didn’t convert any. They had one and scored that goal. I can only congratulate them.
“We knew they would be tough but they surprised us with their speed, their movement. They played attacking football, they really wanted to win.
“Now they are in second place in the group with a great chance to progress.”