As the final men’s soccer group matches in the 2016 Rio Olympic games nearing the end, Nigeria is set to play Denmark in the quarterfinals.
Nigeria finished the group stages as winners of Group B despite losing 2-0 to Colombia on Thursday. Having beaten Japan and Sweden in their first two group matches, the Super Eagles had secured a spot in the quarterfinals and has moved into their final group match.
The Thursday match saw Teofilo Guitierrez from Colombia scoring its first goal in the fourth minute. In the 19th minute, another goal attempt was made but deflected by Nigeria goalkeeper, Daniel Akpeyi.
A penalty kick in the 63rd minute enabled Colombia’s Dorlan Pabon to secure another goal for his side.
Super Eagles coach, Samson Siasia has said he will concentrate on building a solid defense line as Nigeria is set to tackle Group A runners-up Denmark in the quarterfinals on Saturday.
Speaking in the post match conference on Wednesday, Siasia said: “Of course when you make too many changes, it won’t work the way you expected. Going into the knock –out stage, that’s a different ball game. If you lose, you go home, so all those mistakes we have been making mostly in the backline have to be corrected. We didn’t do a good job on the Colombian forwards. We really have to work harder on our defending.
“In the first half, we had a couple of good chances and Etebo had a very good one that he should have scored. But one good thing about him is that he always put himself in good positions. He didn’t score today; that’s football. Hopefully, in the next game, we can convert our chances and defend better.”
On his assessment of the Colombia team, Siasia stated, “Colombia has always been a good team, in spite of the challenges they faced before coming to the Olympics. All the teams at this tournament are good; you just have to take your chances when you have them. The Colombians took their chances against us and are now in the quarterfinals.”
Also on Oghenekaro Etebo’s injury, Coach Siasia said he would have to wait for the verdict from the medical crew. On his part, Captain Mikel John Obi said the team did not take the game lightly. “That’s football. We are professionals and could not have underrated the Colombians. We will work harder ahead of our next game.”
The Nigeria U23 delegation departed Sao Paulo on Thursday morning for Salvador, where the team confronts Denmark at the Arena Fonte Nova on Saturday evening. Meanwhile, the National Technical Director, Mr. Bitrus Bewarang has arrived in Brazil to join the U23 team as they march on in the quest for Olympic gold.
Following Colombia’s 2-0 win, Colombia advances to the quarterfinals as well with 5 points from the group matches behind Nigeria’s 6 points.
South Africa and Algeria have been knocked out of the competition, making Nigeria the only African team to advance to the men’s soccer quarterfinals.
The quarterfinals fixtures are as follows: Portugal vs Germany, Nigeria vs Denmark, South Korea vs Honduras and Brazil vs Colombia.