Nigeria’s U-23 football team have secured qualification to the Semifinals of the Rio 2016 Olympics after defeating Denmark 2-0 on Saturday.
The Dream Team VI started the game on a very positive note with Imoh Ezekiel the tormentor in chief of the Danish defence but the Africans had to wait until the 15th minute before taking the lead after some fine work by Ezekiel who drilled in a cross into the 18-yard area for Mikel to score past goalkeeper Hojbjerg.
Ezekiel, 22, had another chance to double Nigeria’s lead in the 19th minute after leaving three Danish defenders for dead but he could not direct his shot on target and Denmark managed to escape.
From the 20th minute onward, Denmark had more of the possession and they started to carve out a few opportunities of their own. In the 27th minute, Nigeria goalkeeper Emmanuel Daniel was called into action for the first time after Frederick Borsting was played through on goal but the 22-year-old shot-stopper was sharp enough to thwart the attack.
Denmark had another fantastic opportunity to equalise just before half-time but Daniel was on hand again to deny Edigerson Gomes from scoring which meant Nigeria went into the break with the advantage.
Samson Siasia’s men began the second half in the same manner as they started the opening 45 minutes by piling pressure on the Danish defence early on. In the 60th minute, Aminu Umar doubled Nigeria’s lead after Mikel’s corner found him unmarked in the box and he placed his header calmly past the goalkeeper.
The Danes grew into the game after Nigeria scored the second goal but they could not convert any of the opportunities that came their way and Nigeria was able to hold on for the win.
The result means that Nigeria are through the semifinals of the tournament for the first time since 2008 where they will face Germany who won their Quarterfinal fixture earlier in the day, beating Portugal 4-0.