Four talented teams, two important games, one 90-degree day. The three combined to make the semifinals of the fifth annual National Bank of Washington Embassy Cup soccer tournament, held yesterday at the Mall's John F. Kennedy Memorial Fields, a test of fitness and endurance as much as skill.

In the day's first game, two-time defending champion Nigeria defeated Bolivia, 3-1, in overtime. In the second, Paraguay defeated Italy, 4-0. The winners will meet in next Saturday's final.

Jacob Oneila scored a game-tying goal off in the 89th minute and former Howard star Sylvanus Oriaikhi ran through an exhausted Bolivia defense for two goals in the second of two 15-minute overtime periods to give Nigeria the win.

"I kept telling the guys never to give up," Nigeria Coach Sonny Izevbigie said. "And that's the way it goes in soccer, especially when we play this team {Bolivia}. It always seems to go down to the wire."

And always to the Nigerians, who have eliminated Bolivia in the semifinals three consecutive years, each time by 3-1.

"These two teams should have played in the final," said Oriaikhi, 32, who played two years for the Nigerian national team and four years for Howard, including the Bison's two NCAA championship seasons, 1971 and '74. "They are a very good side, but at the end, we saw that they were very tired so we tried to push the ball hard at them. It paid dividends."

Bolivia broke a scoreless tie in the 54th minute when Freddie Perez collected a loose ball that had been headed forward after a Bolivia goal kick and dribbled in alone on Nigeria goalkeeper Peter Igiebor. Igiebor chose not to come out and challenge Perez, who kept his patience and easily scored into the far left corner.

Later, Oriaikhi sent a drive on goal off an indirect kick from just outside the penalty area that Bolivia goalkeeper Andres Rincon could not control. Oneila, standing less than five yards from the left post, controlled the rebound, but blasted a shot squarely off the post.

Soon thereafter, Bolivia's Willie Muria came in at Igiebor on a breakaway. This time, Igiebor charged out -- and slid directly against Muria's legs. Igiebor was given a yellow card and Bolivia was given a penalty kick. However, Edwin Garcia's attempt for the right corner and a 2-0 lead was weakly struck and Igiebor easily made the save.

"That would have been it," Izevbigie said.

Actually, that was it. Bolivia, which later lost Muria to an ejection for tussling with a Nigeria player (who also was sent off), could not build any offensive momentum. Meantime, its defense and Rincon (eight saves after halftime) slowly but surely wore down.