International soccer was back in the Bayou City this past Friday night. The Mexican National Team made its annual visit to Reliant Stadium, taking on an unfamiliar foe in Nigeria.
Although neither side walked off the pitch with a victory to celebrate, there was plenty to draw from their 2-2 score line.
Here are five things Hair Balls learned from the Friday's friendly at Reliant.
5. A cock-tease to the 2013 FIFA Confederations' Cup
Both squads will take part in FIFA's trial-run-tournament that precludes the World Cup. Mexico is in via their 4-2 triumph of the US in the 2011 CONCACAF Gold Cup. Nigeria got their ticket from winning the CAF Africa Cup of Nations earlier this year.
They likely won't play each other in this eight-team tournament unless they both make it past the group stage, which won't be an easy draw. Mexico faces Italy, Brazil and Japan, while Nigeria faces Tahiti, Uruguay and Spain.
The 2-2 draw would earn them a point in the Group Stage, but would force overtime and a possible penalty kick shootout in the Knockout Stage.
4. Mexico played a man down for over an hour El Tricolor had the match in control with an early 1-0 lead. Then disaster struck.
In the 27th minute, Nigeria was awarded a penalty kick for controversial hand ball inside the box. Pablo Barrera, who was whistled for the hand ball, was also shown a red card on the play.
After equalizing the match following penalty, Nigeria was able to capitalize on its player advantage. Just before halftime, John Ugochukwu had his shot deflected, and bounced on in to goal -- making it 2-1 Nigeria.
3. Chicharito to the rescue It's been a quiet 2013 for Javier "el Chicharito" Hernandez. His playing time at Manchester United has been diminished, and he's yet a score a goal at home during the "Hexagonal" World Cup Qualifying round.
On Friday night, Chicharito got his. He opened up the score in the 21st minute with a low shot. Then in the 70th minute, he tapped in the ball for his second tally of the night.
He was subbed out three minutes later, ending his chance at a hat-trick. But hey, a brace is nothing to be ashamed about.
2. Nigeria represented at Reliant It was no surprise when 62,107 spectators at Reliant Stadium were extremely pro-Mexico. However, there was a strong Nigerian presence.
The Nigerian fans were visible near the North Side endzone. The support they received should help in bringing more high-profile teams to the Bayou City, which is a good change of pace -- I was tired of watching Mexico vs (insert Latin American club here).
1. Ready for the big match(es) Mexico has three WCQ matches coming up these next few weeks. Two of those will be on the road. They'll be in Kingston, Jamaica on Tuesday, followed by another road date against Costa Rica on June 11.
Mexico has struggled in the Hexagonal. Could a quality game against a quality opponent get team morale up? Mexico hopes so.
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