Nigeria reached the last eight of the Men’s Olympic Football Tournament at the ongoing Games in Brazil after Sadiq Umar’s 40th minute goal separated the 1996 champions from European champions Sweden at the Arena Amazonia in Manaus on Sunday.
Four –goal hero against Japan in Nigeria’s opening match, Oghenekaro Etebo remained the African champions’ livewire, and had already created some anxious moments in the Swedish area before side-netting with a fierce shot in the 29th minute.
Seven minutes later, Etebo connected powerfully with a header in the box, which sailed narrowly over the bar, but Umar made good with his own header four minutes later when diving to connect a marvelous cross from defender Stanley Amuzie. Umar had also opened Nigeria’s account in Thursday’s 5-4 defeat of Japan.
At half –time, the domination was somewhat embarrassing, with the Nigeria U23 credited with 62 per cent possession and having played seven corner kicks to their opponents’ none. Skipper Mikel John Obi came close three minutes after the break but his shot was pushed away by the Swedish goalkeeper.
The Swedish keeper had to be even more alert four minutes later, to push an angled shot from Etebo, who had broken into a sizzling run, round the post.
Amuzie and Imoh Ezekiel side –netted, before another heart –thumping Etebo run from the flank was wasted as Sadiq Umar failed to get a leg to the ball, but Nigeria earned all three points even though they wasted more chances in the closing stages and centre –back Sincere Seth had to thwart an opportunity for the Swedes in the 90th minute.
2008 Olympics silver medallists Nigeria next play Colombia at the Arena dos Corinthians in Sao Paulo on Wednesday evening.