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Complete Football Special

  • Text
  • Nigeria
  • Olympics
  • Medal
  • Olympic
  • Brazil
  • Nigerian
  • Umar
  • Japan
  • Atlanta
  • Penalty

Page 2

Page 2 Special Olympics Special Football in Nigeria's DNA By MUMINI ALAO HE U23 Olympic football team are the silver lining in the gloom that Thas enveloped Nigerian football in recent time. The (senior) Super Eagles, U20 Flying Eagles and U17 Golden Eaglets have all failed, successively in recent months, to qualify for their respective African Championships in 2017, while the senior team are underdogs again in their qualifying group for the 2018 FIFA World Cup. If the Eagles fail to beat Algeria, Cameroun and Zambia to the group's sole ticket to Russia 2018, a long stretch of international football inaction lies ahead of Nigeria with the risk of further stagnation or even retrogression in our fortunes and ratings. In comes the U23 "Dream Team" to provide temporary relief. Against all the odds that they encountered en route to the Rio 2016 Olympic Games in Brazil, Samson Siasia's boys emerged with the ONLY medal won by Nigeria at the entire games, never mind that it is a bronze. Surely, these Brilliant Boys deserve to be celebrated for giving us something to cheer about. I understand the feeling of any Nigerian reading this and accusing me of "celebrating mediocrity" and thinking, "this is why our country has not made progress." But the fact is, it's not the fault of the footballers, nor indeed our other sportsmen and women, that the country's sports has fallen short over the years and we are now, literally, on the verge of a total collapse. If anything, it is the never-say-die spirit and resilience of our sportsmen and women that have kept Nigeria in reckoning. So, when they do achieve any sort of accomplishment, we owe them tons of appreciation. Football Country One major point that the soccer bronze medal in Rio underscored for Nigeria is that, despite the protestations by other sports, we are first and foremost, a football country. Just like in all the other sports, our preparations for the football event was, to say the least, a disaster. In fact, our footballers made embarrassing global headline as the last contingent to arrive in Brazil, just a few hours to their first game against Japan, in spite of a four-year notice! Yet they won that game and soldiered on to come home with the bronze medal. That cannot be happenstance. Football is in the Nigerian DNA, ahead of other sports. You don't have to dig too deep to strike our soccer oil. It's boiling angrily, close to the surface. Indeed, you must have abundant natural ability to be able to overcome the extreme logistical, emotional, physical and psychological nightmares that our boys confronted and still emerge victorious against better-prepared (but arguably lesser endowed) opponents like our boys did in Rio. The first time we met an established world footballing power (Germany) at the semi-final, (our last group match defeat to Colombia was inconsequential because we had nothing at stake then), our limitations were exposed. Remember, football is in the German DNA, too, ahead of other sports. Furthermore, the bronze medal in Rio has made it a complete set of medals for Nigeria in football, following our historic Gold at Atlanta '96 and the Silver at Beijing 2008, the latter won by the same coach as in Rio 2016, Samson Siasia. Not many countries in the world can boast of such a remarkable collection in the football event of the Olympics Games. Atmosphere Ironically, whether Siasia's boys could have done better in Rio with a less dramatic arrival and less stressful participation is open to question. I spoke to former national team captain Chief Segun Odegbami after the miraculous opening win over Japan and reminded him about his theory that Nigerian teams only seem to prosper in an atmosphere of disorderliness and confusion. Odegbami laughed, but my point was not lost on him. Who knows whether the U23 lads would have been too relaxed and less determined to "prove a point" had their road to Rio been smooth and comfy! It was a similar scenario 20 years ago in Atlanta '96, when our players led by captain Nwankwo Kanu had to drive themselves to training in rented cars because there was no team bus and no driver; and pay hotel bills from their pockets because money was late in coming from the administrators. I travelled with that team to all their match venues in America and witnessed how the coach, Dutchman Jo Bonfrere, persistently fought a battle of wits with the then minister of sport, Chief Jim Nwobodo, over his salary and bonuses before emerging victorious. Therefore, Siasia's altercations with the current minister of sport, Solomon Dalung, is a "normal" occurrence in Nigerian team camps while captain Mikel Obi's reported payments for team expenses is not unprecedented. Our football teams seem to revel in the face of adversity. That, also, is in the Nigerian DNA. Congratulations, Siasia, Mikel and the rest of our Rio Olympic heroes, the Dream Team Class of 2016. You were all simply brilliant! PUBLISHER: Dr. Emmanuel-Sunny Ojeagbase DEPUTY EDITOR-IN-CHIEF: Mumini Alao ASSISTANT EDITOR: Kayode Ogundare GRAPHIC ARTIST: Wale Ajose GENERAL MANAGER: Lydia Oyekanmi (Mrs) GROUP ADVERT MANAGER: Thomas Ayodele ACCOUNTANT: Soji Ogunbekun Complete Football is published by Complete Communications Limited, Plot 9, Alhaji Adenekan Street, Okota, Lagos. All Correspondence to P.M.B. 1033, Oshodi Lagos OR P.O.Box 51404, Ikoyi, Lagos. Advert hotline: 0802-315-8021 MATCH No.1 ETEBO IS KING OF NINE-GOAL THRILLER ghenekaro Etebo was the star of the night Oscoring four goals as Nigeria opened their gold quest with a 5-4 defeat of Japan in a thrilling, back-and-forth encounter. The match didn't take long to spring into life. Nigeria forward Sadiq Umar opened the scoring after Imoh Ezekiel had his shot saved following some superb dribbling on the right wing. Umar was right there to tap in the second chance after Japan goalkeeper Masatoshi Kushibiki spilled it right in front of him. Japan responded with a goal of their own three minutes later when a penalty kick was given after Stanley Amuzie fouled Shoya Nakajima in the penalty area. Shinzo Koroki stepped up and converted a very calm and composed penalty, sending Daniel the wrong way. Oghenekaro Etebo then put Nigeria back in the lead a minute later, controlling a very high cross with his chest before unleashing a half volley into Kushibiki's goal to restore Nigeria's lead. NIGERIA 5-4 JAPAN Seconds later, Takumi Minamino found himself one on one with Daniel and calmly slotted his shot past the goalkeeper to make it 2-2, thrilling the Manaus crowd. The first appeared to be heading for a stalemate until Etebo scored his second goal of the match to give Nigeria the lead for the third time. The Nigerian attacking pearl picked up from where he left off and completed his hat-trick five minutes after the restart, scoring from the penalty spot after Umar was fouled in the area. The Feirense man then scored his fourth goal of the night, picking up a poor clearance from Kushibiki and scoring from 20 yards into an empty net. That goal looked to have taken the life out of Japan, but they didn't give up. From then on, the game was Japan's to chase and despite scoring two goals, Nigeria held on for a win and leadership of the group after the other game between Sweden and Colombia ended in a draw. Venue: Arena Amazonia Manaus (BRA) Dare: 4 Aug 2016 First stage - Group B NIGERIA 5: (Umar 6', Etebo 10', 42', 52p, 66') — JAPAN 4: (Koroki 9p, Minamino 13', Asano 70', Suzuki 95') Japan LINE UP Nigeria: Daniel, Sincere, Shehu, Ekong, Etebo, Ezekiel (Udo 78'), Mikel (Saliu 87'), S. Umar, Azubuike, Amuzie, Muhammed (Madu 73') Yc: Amuzie Japan: Kushibiki, Muroya, Endo, Fujiharu, Ueda, Shiotani, Harakawa (Asano 53'), Ohshima, Nakajima (Yajima 76'), Koroki (Suzuki 70'), Minamino

Olympics Special Special Page 3 MATCH No.2 SWEDEN 0-1 NIGERIA NIGERIA TOP DESPITE COLOMBIA LOSS much changed Nigerian side fell 2-0 Ato Colombia who secured their place in the knockout stages, following the Africans into the last eight of the Men’s Olympic Football Tournament. A first-half strike from captain Teofilo Gutierrez and a second-half penalty from Dorlan Pabon ensured the South Americans emerged as the only unbeaten team in the group after successive draws with Sweden and Japan but they trailed Nigeria who had already qualified after back-to-back wins. Needing a win to secure their place in the last eight, it was Los Cafeteros that took an early lead through their captain Gutierrez. Pabon’s fine forward ball from the left flank picked out the unmarked Sporting Lisbon striker at the top of the Nigeria penalty box. Gutierrez then applied a neat volleyed finish to knockout stages was reflected in their willingness to extend their lead after half-time. Just after the hour mark, they were rewarded with a penalty after Akpeyi took down Preciado in the Nigeria penalty box. Pabon stepped up to drive his spot-kick home and double Colombia’s advantage. The result ensured Colombia finished second in Group B with five points, one point behind group winners Nigeria. Colombia will play their quarter-final clash in Sao Paulo on Saturday against Brazil, while Nigeria travels to Salvador for their last-eight encounter against Denmark. Venue: Arena Corinthians Sao Paulo (BRA) Date: 10 Aug 2016 First stage - Group B Colombia 2: (Gutierrez 4’, Pabon 63p) Nigeria 0 LINE UP: Colombia: Bonilla, Tesillo, Balanta, Pabon (Machado 86'), Gutierrez, Preciado, Roa, Palacios, Barrios (Perez 78'), Balanta (Lerma 72'), Borja Nigeria: Akpeyi, Sincere, Madu (Amuzie 80'), Ekong, A. Umar (Ezekiel 70'), Etebo, Mikel, Saliu (Muhammed 70'), S. Umar, Azubuike, Udo YC: Akpeyi, Ekong, Azubuike UMAR HEADS NIGERIA INTO LAST EIGHT Nigeria progressed to the quarter-finals at the Men's Olympic Football Tournament Rio 2016 after a 1-0 victory over Sweden in Group B thanks to a Sadiq Umar header at the Amazonia Arena in Manaus. For a large part of the match both sides played conservatively, but it was Nigeria who looked more threatening in attack. Fresh from scoring four goals last time out, Oghenekaro Etebo attempted several shots in the half—with his right foot, left foot and with his head—but he was unable to get the better of Sweden goalkeeper Andreas Linde. Nigeria eventually found the opener six minutes from time, when Stanley Amuzie delivered a pinpoint, curling cross in open play from the left wing that found Umar and the Roma man made no mistake, scoring with a diving header. The Africans continued their dominance in the second half, and just three minutes in, captain John Obi Mikel fired a well-driven shot from the top of the area saved by Linde. The Swedish goalkeeper had to be alert four minutes later when Etebo dribbled inside the corner of the penalty box and attempted a curling effort, but once again, Linde saved. Coach Hakan Ericson used all three of his substitutes - Ken Sema, Muamer Tankovic and Jacob Une Larsson - to try and give his team a new dimension but, in the end, Nigeria's backline was up to the challenge and held on for all three points. On Wednesday, Nigeria will close out group play against Colombia in Sao Paulo, while Sweden have a must-win match ahead against Japan in Salvador if they are going to continue their Rio 2016 journey. Venue: Arena Amazonia Manaus (BRA) Date: 7 Aug 2016 First stage - Group B SWEDEN 0 NIGERIA 1 (Umar 40') LINE UP Sweden: Linde, Lundqvist (Larsson 81'), Milosevic, Nilsson, Konate, Khalili, Tibbling, Fransson (Sema 62'), Quaison (Tankovic 69'), Ajdarevic, Ishak Nigeria: Daniel, Sincere, Shehu (Udo 88'), Ekong, Etebo, Ezekiel, Mikel (Madu 79'), S.Umar (A.Umar 74'), Azubuike, Amuzie, Muhammed Yc: A.Umar MATCH No.3 COLOMBIA 2-0 NIGERIA beat Nigeria goalkeeper Daniel Akpeyi and give Colombia a fourth-minute advantage. The Group B winners then created chances of their own before the break, with the best of Nigeria’s opportunities coming in the 28th minute when Oghenekaro Etebo put Sadiq Umar’s low cross wide of the far post in the Colombia penalty box. Etebo also tested Cristian Bonilla with a well-hit free-kick that was blocked away by the legs of the Colombia goalkeeper. Colombia’s determination to reach the ROAD TO QUARTER FINAL GROUP B TEAMS MP W D L GF GA GD Pts Nigeria 3 2 0 1 6 6 0 6 Colombia 3 1 2 0 6 4 2 5 Japan 3 1 1 1 7 7 0 4 Sweden 3 0 1 2 2 4 -2 1

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