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Monday, 3 June, 2002, 13:22 GMT 14:22 UK
Shorunmu gets rave review
Ike Shorunmu
Shorunmu's performance for Nigeria was impressive

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Nigerians took great consolation in Ike Shorunmu's excellent saves after their team's 1-0 defeat by Argentina on Sunday.

The loss puts Nigeria at the bottom of their group, as England and Sweden battled to a 1-1 draw.

"Huge credits to Shorunmu for a magnificent performance because our team could have lost by at least four goals," football analyst Ojo Maduka told BBC Sport Online.

"We lost, but gallantly, and Shorunmu won my heart. For me, he's the man of the match," said local fan Anthony Ifediora.

Women's football analyst Wunmi Thomas spoke in the same vein.

"Nigeria can hold its heads high despite the defeat," she said.

"Shorounmu showed the great stuff he's made off with some outstanding saves. If only everyone in the side had played like him."

Past encounters

The 'keeper with Swiss club Luzern made several world-class saves to keep the scoreline low, as the Eagles struggled against a side touted as one of the tournament's favourites.

He did, however, look shaky at dealing with crosses, especially those of Argentina's lethal playmaker Juan Sebastian Veron.

Nigeria fans
Nigerians believe qualification is still possible

It was Nigeria's second defeat in three senior international meetings against Argentina.

The Latin Americans won 2-1 in a first-round match at the 1994 World Cup in the United States.

At the 1995 Confederations' Cup tournament in Saudi Arabia, the sides fought out a 0-0 draw.

Travel hitches

A few fans attributed the Eagles' defeat to the absence of the official supporters' club in Ibaraki.

Visa and travelling hitches prevented the team from flying out of Lagos as planned on Friday.

But many fans still hope that Nigeria can still qualify for the second round from the so-called 'group of death'.

"All we need to do is beat Sweden and get our qualification hopes back on track," said Thomas.

"I'm confident we can still qualify," Maduka added.

Once we beat the Swedes, we will need just one point from England to go to the next round."

The Nigerians take on Sweden on Friday.


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GROUP F
  P GD PTS
SWEDEN 3 +1 5
ENGLAND 3 +1 5
ARGENTINA 3 0 4
NIGERIA 3 -2 1

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