Having resolved to put behind them, the disappointment of not making it through for the gold match at the Rio Olympics, Jon Obi Mikel Obi and his Nigeria U-23 teammates are not wiling to let anything to chance anymore.
They are all set to battle for a consolatory bronze medal against surprise-package Honduras on Saturday.
Honduras, a country that has never won an Olympic medal, was not expected to make it to the medal rounds of the men’s soccer tournament but having come this far they could become a banana peel in the somewhat important losers’ final match.
Led by a strong attacking trio of Antony Lozano, Alberth Ellis and Romell Quioto, Honduras has earned some impressive results at the 2016 Olympics, including a 1-1 draw against Argentina in group play and a 1-0 victory over South Korea in the quarterfinals.
Semi final heartache
Unfortunately for Honduras, it run into a juggernaut in the semifinals as it was trounced by Brazil 6-0. The team will have to recover from that disappointing result to have a chance against a very talented Nigeria team.
Nigeria has been one of the most exciting teams at the Rio Games, both on and off the field.
The Nigerian players seemed to rally around the chaos as they won Group B and defeated Denmark in the quarterfinals.
Both Honduras and Nigeria have found success on the offensive side of the ball, but were shutout in the semifinals. Nigeria has scored eight goals at the 2016 Olympics, while Honduras is not far behind with six goals.
One player who could play a key role in the match-up is Nigeria captain Mikel who had before now repeatedly talked about his desire to win gold in Rio.
The Olympic bronze contest at Mineirao will see both sides meet for the second time this year, it was Samson Siasia’s team who triumphed 3-1 in the Suwon tournament in South Korea in June.
Nigeria Coach Samson Siasia
“You’re better off having a bronze medal than not having anything at all. That’s the only way we can motivate them and it’s going to be very, very tough. They wanted to go to Rio but you need to earn it to go there.”
Honduras Coach Jorge Luis Pinto
“We must react. As we cannot stay with happiness when there wins, cannot keep the sadness of loss”
Goalkeepers: Harold Fonseca, Luis Lopez
Defenders: Kevin Alvarez, Brayan Garcia, Johnny Palacios, Jonathan Paz, Marcelo Pereira, Elder Torres, Allans Vargas
Midfielders: Bryan Acosta, Allan Banegas, Jhow Benavidez, Brayan Ramirez, Oscar Salas
Forwards: Alberth Elis, Kevin Lopez, Antony Lozano, Romell Quioto
Goalkeepers: Daniel Akpeyi, Emmanuel Daniel
Defenders: Muenfuh Sincere, Kingsley Madu, Shehu Abdullahi, Saturday Erimuya, William Troost-Ekong, Ndifreke Udo, Stanley Amuzie
Midfielders: Oghenekaro Etebo, Mikel John Obi, Popoola Saliu, Azubuike Okechukwu, Usman Mohammed
Forwards: Aminu Umar, Imoh Ezekiel, Junior Ajayi, Umar Sadiq