The stage is set for the knockout stages of one of sport’s greatest event in the world as Nigeria’s U-23 team confront Denmark in the quarter final of the Rio Olympic Games Men’s football at the Fonte Nova Arena, Salvador on Saturday by 8pm Nigerian time.
Both teams are no strangers to each other having met at the Suwon four nation invitational tournaments in June where the Danish side pummeled their Nigerian counterpart 6-2. Although few of the players that feature at that match for Nigeria were dropped for the Rio party, however, the Dream Team will be pushing to avenge the defeat in a bid to book a place in the semi final of the competition.
Nigeria were top of group B with six points thanks to their 5-4 win over Japan and 1-0 victory over Sweden before facing defeat against Colombia in their last group match. On the other hand, Denmark came second in group A after drawing Iraq in their opening match, beating South Africa 1-0 in their second game before been humiliated 4-0 by hosts Brazil in their final group match.
Regardless of Nigeria’s dominance in their group, the team should be wary of the fact that their defence have leaked more goals than their Danish counterpart who have conceded four goals, all coming against Brazil. Psychologically, the Denmark side could be having an advantage over Nigeria going by their emphatically victory over them, but since football is unpredictable; the team that takes their goal scoring chances could eventually carry the day.
With a slight injury worry in the camp of Nigeria where Junior Ajayi and Ogenekharo Etebo are nursing injuries which could probably rule them out of the clash against Denmark on Saturday except the unusual happens. Again, the players morale seem down due to an unpaid camp allowances and bonuses by the Nigeria Football Federation, forcing the players to skip training on Friday and possibly boycotting Saturday’s quarter final match against Denmark.
According to sources from the team’s camp the players the protest is also tied to the unpaid five month salaries and allowances of the coaches which the NFF president, Amaju Pinnick has directed the secretariat to settle with the $60,000 grant received from CAF recently.
Meanwhile, Dream Team VI coach Samson Siasia is hoping his team gets their pound of flesh from the Scandinavians.
“I knew there would be questions about the game. They killed us then. They had seven chances and scored six goals. It has never happened before in football,” said Siasia.
“There have been replacements on both our and their teams since then, but it will be a tough battle. We are ready and must ensure that it is we who win 6-2 this time.”
Also, Odense Boldklub chief scout Uffe Pedersen, revealed to bold.dk that Denmark should be expecting a different team from the Nigerian side after spying on two of their matches against Japan and Sweden.
“It is a very different team, they have than they were two months ago,” Pedersen was quoted as saying by bold.dk.
“We have had Uffe Pedersen over to Nigeria’s first two matches, so now we need some input from him and find out how we go about it. But that’s a typical African team, so it was at least when we met them in South Korea. But they are reinforced, if not significantly enhanced, compared to when we met them then.”
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