The Nigerian U23 football team's Olympic journey got off to an acrimonious start, with plenty of confusion and controversy about their delayed journey from their Atlanta-based training camp to Brazil itself, but since arriving in the country, they've done nothing but impress.
Their first game, a wild 5-4 win over Japan was a mish-mash of haphazard defending, individual skill, and great finishing. The second one, a 1-0 win over Sweden Sunday afternoon, may not have made as much of an impact on the scoreboard, but on the pitch, it was a much more promising performance. Nigeria could've and should've scored a fair few more — Andreas Linde, goalkeeper for Molde, remember the name — but they managed to get away with the narrowest of margins thanks to an organized and solid defense. Amazing what a couple days of sleep and proper preparation can do!
Mikel, as usual, wearing the #10 shirt and the captain's armband, played in the no.10-role, but was substituted off with about 10 minutes to go. He came very close to scoring just prior, with well-taken free kick. In a rather ironic move, coach Siasia brought on a left back in an ostensibly defensive substitution. Not something you see every day with The Human Final Whistle.
He got a warm applause from the stadium, which is also not something you see every day.
GIF: John Mikel Obi with the turn of life pic.twitter.com/TdMFobNyaM— Wolé II (@Kingwole) August 7, 2016
With two wins from two, Nigeria's "Dream Team VI" have ensured a place in the quarterfinals. They have one more group match remaining, against Colombia on Wednesday.