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Nigeria suffer first defeat at Olympics, win Group B anyway to avoid Brazil in knockout round

Alexandre Schneider/Getty Images

If the world felt a little off balance, a little out of kilter today, there's a good reason for that.  Lord of Football, Mikel John Obi and his Dream Team VI of Nigeria U23 lost at the Olympics.

But do not despair, this is just a minor disturbance in the force!  Despite losing 2-0 to Colombia, Nigeria still finished atop Group B, thus avoiding a knockout round match-up against Group A winners Brazil, who finally looked like Brazil in their 4-0 win over Denmark later on Wednesday.  It will be the Danes who will await Nigeria in Saturday's quarterfinals.

Nigeria got off to the worst start possible, as the veteran Teo Gutierrez grabbed a goal within the first five minutes, a cavalcade of errors from the green shirts (starting with Mikel) gifting him the opportunity.  Nigeria head coach Siasia decided to rest half the starting lineup from the previous two wins, and perhaps that was a big contributing factor to the often disjointed play from the team.

Nigeria enjoyed the majority of possession from there on, but unlike against Sweden, they couldn't make their superiority count.  A second-half penalty kick doubled Colombia's lead as they secured passage into the next round as well.

Ahead of the game, Mikel penned an article for the Evening Standard, giving a first-person perspective on the team's dramatic journey so far (with plane delays and scuppered flag-carrying plans and lions and tigers and oh my).  They may have lost this battle on Wednesday, but their eyes, hopes, and ambitions remain firmly on the gold.

"After all the drama of getting here, the dream of winning the gold medal is the only thing on my mind."

-Mikel John Obi; source: Evening Standard

One way or another, Captain Mikel will be instrumental in Nigeria's quest.

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