Nigeria qualify for Rio Olympics

Nigeria qualify for Rio Olympics


Nigeria’s Under-23 team have qualified for the football event of the 2016 Olympics in Brazil after beating hosts Senegal 1-0 in the semi-final of the CAF U-23 Africa Cup of Nations on Wednesday.
The goal from
Oghenkaro Etebo from the penalty spot gave Nigeria the win over the Senegalese team at the Leopold Sedar Senghor Stadium and booked them a place at the 2016 Olympic Games.
Nigeria will now play Algeria in the final match of the competition on Saturday while Senegal will battle South Africa in the third-place match for a chance at the third spot in Rio. Algeria beat South Africa in the second semi-final on Wednesday. The top three teams at the tournament will represent Africa at the Olympics.
The Nigeria U-23 team will return to the Olympics after they failed to qualify for the 2012 edition of the event in London. The Austin Eguavoen-led team fell out in the group stages of the 2011 U-23 AFCON with one of the losses coming from Senegal.
The Nigerian team put up a better performance on Wednesday against the hosts than they did in their first three matches at the tournament. They conceded second half goals in their 3-2 win over Mali and also their 2-2 draw with Egypt before playing a barren draw against Algeria.
Coach Samson Siasia made three changes in the team which drew against Algeria in their last group game. Godspower Aniefiok replaced the suspended captain Azubuike Okechukwu while Kufre Ebong replaced Taiwo Awoniyi and Tiongoli Tonbara started in the stead of Stanley Dimgba.
The change worked as the team defended better and fought for the ball after losing it. Senegal started the stronger side as they sought to score the early goal with Nigeria struggling to find their feet in the game. The closest Nigeria went to the Senegalese goal in the first half was in the third minute when stand-in captain Etebo’s free-kick was saved by Senegal’s goalkeeper Pape Seydou.
The Senegalese piled pressure on the Nigerian defence with goalkeeper Emmanuel Daniel making four saves from the Senegalese attack led by Ibrahima Keita. Their efforts seemed to have paid off in the added time of the first half when Daniel fouled Keita and a spot kick was awarded. Keita failed to convert the penalty as he shot into the arms of Daniel.
The second half was an end-to-end affair as each side aimed to catch the other on the counter but Nigeria got the winner in the 77th minute after a confusion between goalkeeper Seydou and defender Ousseynou Thioune resulted in the player handling the ball in the penalty area. Thioune was sent off and Etebo converted the penalty to give Nigeria a place in the final.
An excited Siasia said, “I’m very happy to win against Senegal again after the Africa Cup of Nations in 1992 and achieving our objective, which was to qualify for the Olympics. I think the ‘gods of football’ were with my team today because Senegal created most of the chances but they failed to score.”


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