The Nigeria U-23 team secured a berth in the quarter finals of the men’s football event of the Rio Olympic Games after posting a narrow win over Sweden early Monday morning in Manus.
AS Roma youngster Sadiq Umar got the only goal for Nigeria in the Group B clash against Sweden
After a cagey start, Nigeria came close to breaking the deadlock in the 9th minute with three quick attempts from Umar, Oghenekaro Etebo and then from Captain Mikel Obi but none could go inside the net.
In the 22nd minute Sweden nearly caught the Nigeria defence flat-footed but Ishaak was not able to turn the ball rightly behind
Just before the hour mark Etebo and Imoh Ezekiel combined nicely inside the Sweden box but the close range effort by the four-goal hero was stopped by the Sweden keeper Linde.
Moments after, Etebo had another try but a finger tip save by the Sweden goalkeeper only resulted in a corner kick for the Dream Team VI.
Etebo keen to add to his tally was at the end of another cross in the 35th minute but the glancing header from the former Warri Wolves man went inches over the bar.
After all the near misses, Nigeria deservedly got the opening goal and it was AS Roma youngster, Umar that got the curtain raiser as he headed Nigeria in front in the 39th after a well delivered cross from Stanley Amuzie.
Nigeria opened brightly in the second half with Mikel getting the first chance after the break but the Chelsea star was denied yet again by an outstanding save from the Sweden keeper Linde.
Linde was again called to action in the 51st minute as Etebo surged into the Sweden box and his thunderbolt was pushed away for a corner.
While Nigeria continued to pile the pressure they just could not get the ball inside the net.
Etebo worked hard to get his name on the scorers’ but it was just not his day as all his effort
In the 73rd minute Sadiq Umar made way for Aminu Umar as Coach Siasia attempted to inject some freshness into his team
Also Mikel made way for Kinglsey Madu in the 80th minute after an above average performance against the Swedes
Nigeria were almost punished for their missed chances in the 85th minute but brave defending from Troost Ekong saved the day for the Dream Team VI.
There were some anxious moment in the Nigeria box towards the end of the game but the team held on for the slim win.
With this win, Nigeria with six points from two games have secured one of the quarter final ticket of the men’s football event even with a game to spare against Colombia.