The Nigerian embassy team played textbook soccer and shut out the Chilean embassy, 5-0, to win its second consecutive Embassy Cup tournament title yesterday before a small gathering at John F. Kennedy Field on the Mall.
The victory completed the Nigerians' domination of the fourth annual tournament, a four-week event involving teams from the embassies of 32 nations.
The Nigerian team outscored four opponents -- Kuwait, Morocco, Bolivia and Chile -- by 24-2 and won a forfeit from Brazil in the quarterfinals.
"We have an excellent team and an excellent bunch of players," said defender Paul Emordi, who led his team's defense. "We were the better side, period."
Nigeria made it 1-0 after only seven minutes. Midfielder Friday Johnson centered a pass to forward Sylvanus Oriaikhi, who met it with his shaven head and put the ball past Chilean goalkeeper Alberto Aranedo.
Ten minutes later, referee Roberto Cofino stopped play when he noticed three Chilean players were wearing shoes with screw-in cleats. To protect the Mall's grass fields, screw-ins were prohibited by the National Park Service.
But, said Chilean midfielder Marco Casas: "We've been wearing the same shoes the whole tournament."
The Chileans complained the game should continue as it started because the violation went undetected before the kickoff. However, Cofino wouldn't allow the game to go on until midfielders Juan Vilches, Fernando Claros, and Franceso Dieguez took off their shoes. Nor would Cofino delay the game for an hour so the three could go home to get other shoes.
"Maybe we should've checked before hand, but we're not babysitting the coaches," said tournament mediator Juan Pablo Perez. "The coaches should be responsible for the rules."
Finally, after a 23-minute delay, the three players borrowed teammates' extra shoes that didn't fit particularly well.
Then, to top things off, when play resumed Aranedo booted the ball high into a tree, holding up the game another five minutes.
The next thing to go wrong for Chile was a spectacular goal in the 20th minute by Nigerian forward Sam Owoh, who dribbled past three defenders a la the World Cup's Diego Maradona and slipped the ball past Aranedo for a 2-0 lead.
"It was just a case of one on one," said Owoh, who plays for North Carolina State. "I just used my own personal skills and experience. There was nothing else to do in that situation."
Moments later, a centering pass by Owoh's teammate, Chibuzor Ehilegbu, accidentally deflected off Dieguez into the net to give Nigeria a 3-0 halftime advantage.
Owoh and Oriaikhi each scored again in the second half, while Emordi and goalkeeper Peter Igiebor smothered all Chilean offensive threats.
" The Nigerians were superior," Vilches said through a translator.
"We enjoyed it," Owoh said.