The Nigeria Football Federation has congratulated the U23 National Team for winning bronze at this year’s Men’s Olympic Football Tournament in Brazil, after edging Honduras 3-2 in Belo Horizonte on Saturday.
Usman Mohammed headed over the woodwork in the 19th minute but Emmanuel Daniel had to be at his best to thwart a long range shot three minutes later. Ezekiel failed to score from a good position in the 26th minute and Sadiq Umar poorly directed his header in the 29thminute.
Daniel had to rush out to intercept and then save a one-on-one situation, before Captain Mikel Obi combined brilliantly with Ezekiel Imoh to tee up Sadiq Umar for Nigeria’s first goal in the 34th minute.
Honduras, who lost 1-3 to Nigeria at the Four –Nation Invitational Tournament in Suwon, Korea Republic in June, hit the sidenet at the close of the first half, but Aminu Umar increased Nigeria’s lead four minutes after recess after pouncing on the ball as the goalkeeper dropped Mikel Obi’s shot.
Within six minutes, Nigeria led 3-0 as Sadiq Umar shot into the net from another Mikel Obi pass. But the Honduras did not give up and Antony Lozano pulled one back in the 71st minute, before Marcelo Perreira ensured a tense finish by heading past Daniel with four minutes left.
Victory meant Nigeria has now won gold, silver and bronze from the Men’s Olympic Football Tournament over the past 20 years. They scooped gold in 1996 and picked silver eight years ago, also under Samson Siasia.
Meanwhile, the Nigeria Football Federation has blasted former goalkeeper Peterside Idah for a mischievous post on his tweeter handle before the match, suggesting the Federation wanted to ‘hijack’ the donation to the team by Japanese plastic surgeon, Dr. Katsuya Takasu.
“His message was a lie, an atrocious false alarm before an important match. I had exchanged correspondence with the Honourable Minister on the issue of the donation and we agreed that there was need for caution. The Minister said to me that he read the donation in the papers and had expressed serious concern. I also received a mail from the NFF Integrity Officer who expressed very serious concern with this kind of donation.
“I got in touch with the Ambassador of Nigeria to Brazil and the Honourable Minister to say that whatever had to be done should be done after the Bronze Medal Match, to avoid any distractions. The NFF may be having financial challenges, but I assure you nobody in the Federation is interested in that money.
“If we get the Government’s go-ahead to collect the money, no official of the NFF will be involved even in the collection. The money will be received directly by the team.”
Pinnick added that the status of Nigeria as a sovereign nation, and the integrity of Nigeria football, is bigger than such financial gains. “If we had rushed to collect that kind of money and hand over to the players, the same people who are condemning the NFF now would have said worse things.
“There are matters in the football world today that FIFA and the various confederations frown at. We are very much aware of that”.