NIGERIA’S Olympic football team got its search for gold off to a flying start early this morning with 5-4 victory over Japan in a thrilling match that involved Oghenekaro Etebo score four goals at the Manaus Stadium in Brazil.
Despite facing a series of difficulties in the run-up to the game after they were left stranded in Atlanta, the squad known as Dream Team VI, managed to arrive in Brazil just in time for the match and clinch victory. Despite arriving just hours before the game, the team managed to clinch all three points with Umar Sadiq getting on the scoresheet too.
Japan had the game’s first chance but Nigerian goalkeeper Emmanuel Daniel made a point blank save before Sincere Seth cleared away for a corner. The game got off to a blistering start when Sadiq opened the scoring in the fifth minute after Imoh Ezekiel’s initial shot was stopped by the Japanese goalkeeper.
A minute later Japan equalised from the penalty spot through Shinzo Koroki after Amuzie fouled am attacker inside the box. In the ninth minute, Etebo put Nigeria ahead again with a left foot strike off a cross from Shehu Abdullahi.
Japan, however, were back on level terms through Takumi Minamino on 13 minutes following a fine intricate passes which split the Nigerian defence open. Amuzie, in the 19th minute, hit a long range strike which Japan’s keeper palmed away for a corner and then a few minutes later, Ezekiel made a timely block which went away for a corner.
In the 31st minute, Ezekiel sent in a low cross which failed to connect with a Nigerian player and then Etebo came close to putting Nigeria in front on 38 minutes but blazed his effort over the bar. In the 42nd minute, Etebo made it 3-2, pouncing on a poor clearance after his initial effort came off a Japanese player.
On the stroke of half time, Etebo had the chance to score Nigeria’s fourth but did not get a clean header from Sadiq’s cross. Etebo got his hat-trick and made it 4-2 in favour for Nigeria after Sadiq was fouled inside the box.
Etebo made it 5-2 for Nigeria in the 67th minute after Japan’s keeper made a harsh of his clearance, before Japanese substitute Asano reduced the deficit in the 70th minute. Nigeria made their first change on 71 minutes with Kingsley Madu replacing Usman Mohammed.
Nigeria made her last change on 86 minute with Mikel Obi coming off for Popoola Saliu and in the 95th minute, Musashi Suzuki made it 5-4. Nigeria now top group B and will face Sweden on Sunday while Japan will face Colombia.