Although neither Victor Moses nor John Obi Mikel made it into Nigeria's squad to face Mexico, the Blues still had a representative on the team: 19-year-old centre back Kenneth Omeruo. The defender has impressed with both the national team and ADO Den Haag this season, and this was an opportunity for him to show his stuff against reasonably dangerous opposition. Chelsea-killer Chicharito was featuring for Mexico after all.
To say the game was strange is something of an understatement. Omeruo rather understandably had difficulty in containing El Tri's front pairing of Chicharito and Aldo de Nigris, but his task was made impossibly harder by his partner, Godfrey Oboabona, who didn't seem to understand the whole 'defending' thing and frequently left Omeruo hung out to dry.
Chicharito thrice dashed between the two, exploiting Oboabona's complete lack of positional sense, and Omeruo simply couldn't keep up. From those three chances, Mexico hit the bar, saw de Nigris miss an easy chance, and then scored through you-know-who. It looked for a while as though the Africa Cup of Nations champions were going to be put to the sword.
But pressure was relieved thanks to a red card at the other end of the pitch. Despite Nigeria playing with a weakened side, they were easily a match for ten-man Mexico, and that gave Omeruo time to settle. But although he looked more assured in the second half, he failed to track Chicharito on a 70th minute run and paid the price as the Manchester United star got behind him on a cross and finished from close range.
Following the equaliser, things went pretty pear-shaped for Nigeria, and Omeruo wasn't exactly covering himself in glory, but once again it was hard to hold him responsibly for anything when Oboabona was playing like a chipmunk on acid. I don't want to pretend as though Omeruo had a good match -- he definitely didn't -- but the context is important and even the likes of Thiago Silva would have struggled today.
All in all, it was about what I was expecting (apart from Oboabona being awful). There was quite a bit of good and quite a bit of bad in 90 minutes of play. Omeruo's talented but extremely raw, and he was put in a very difficult position which Chicharito exploited mercilessly. It's hardly a surprise that a player who's never played above the Eredivisie struggles against a United-calibre striker, especially one as slippery as Hernandez, but just in case you didn't realise Omeruo needed a loan... well, he needs a loan.