The Nigeria U23 lost 0-2 to Germany in the semi finals of the Men’s Olympic Football Tournament Rio 2016 in Sao Paulo on Wednesday, and will now play against Honduras for the bronze medal on Saturday.
Goals by Lukas Klostermman (after only nine minutes) and Nils Petersen (on 90 minutes) dashed Nigeria’s dream of playing in the final match with an opportunity to win the gold medal 20 years after her historic triumph in Atlanta, United States of America.
Skipper Mikel John Obi, goalkeeper Emmanuel Daniel, Norway –based defender William Troost-Ekong and Belgium –based attacking midfielder Imoh Ezekiel threw everything into it, but the early goal and the technical savvy of the Germans knocked the steam out of Nigeria.
Italy –based Umar Sadiq should have put Nigeria level on 12 minutes after goalkeeper Timo Horn miscued a goal –kick, but with only the goalie to beat, he could not put his act together.
Chelsea ace Mikel came close to scoring a contender for goal-of-the-tournament after the half hour, but after turning two defenders, he saw his effort charged him down by another defender.
After another brilliant Daniel save in the 37th minute, Aminu Umar combined with Umar Sadiq but the German defence was alert.
On resumption, the combination of Serge Gnabry, Lars Bender, Davie Selke and Petersen tormented the Nigeria rear at will, and Daniel and Ekong had to weigh in with energetic performances.
Nigeria had a chance to draw level again with nine minutes left on the clock, but defender Stanley Amuzie, who had a game to forget, heaved it too high. The Germans would have the last say, as Petersen put it beyond Daniel on the dot of time after a fast break by the Germans.
The Nigeria U23 will take on Honduras in the Bronze Medal match in Belo Horizonte on Saturday, while hosts Brazil take on Germany in the Gold Medal match at the Maracana Stadium in Rio de Janeiro same day.