The U-23 football team of Nigeria was yesterday at the Estadio Maracana auditorium drawn against old foe, Japan, in the opening stage of the Rio 2016 Olympic Games’ football event.
Also in Group B with the national U-23 team are Sweden and Colombia.
- Group A : Brazil, South Africa, Iraq, Denmark.
- Group B : Sweden, Colombia, Nigeria, Japan.
- Group C :Fiji ,Korea Republic, Mexico, Germany.
- Group D: Honduras, Algeria, Portugal, Argentina.
Nigeria met Japan on its way to winning Africa’s first Olympic football gold medal in 1996 with Tijani Babangida and Austin ‘Jay Jay’ Okocha’s goals separating the sides.
This term, Nigeria will meet Japan again in its opening game at the Amazônia Arena on August 4 before squaring off against Sweden three days later, while its final group game is against Colombia at Corinthians Arena in Sao Paulo on August 10.
Samson Siasia’s boys will be chasing Nigeria’s third medal at the football event of the Olympic Games in Rio. It will add to the gold medal Nigeria won in Atlanta 1996 and the silver medal of Beijing 2008. Incidentally, Siasia was in charge of the team when Nigeria won silver in 2008.
At yesterday’s draws, Nigeria was placed in Pot 2 and by the guidelines could not face another team from the same Confederation – Algeria and South Africa – but the African champion got quite tricky ties.
Group B is a zone for champions, as Nigeria, Sweden and Japan are the champions of Africa, Europe and Asia respectively.
Nigeria’s third opponent in the group, Colombia, had to negotiate its way to the tournament through a two-legged playoff against the USA last month on a 3-2 aggregate. The Rio Olympic men’s football event is their fifth appearance.