Chronicle (Zimbabwe) - - Sport Starts Here -

NIGE­RIA’S 2-0 de­feat to Colom­bia in the last group game of the Olympic men's foot­ball tour­na­ment meant a show­down with Scan­di­na­vian giants Den­mark in the quar­ter­fi­nal.

Or­di­nar­ily, this would have been just an­other match for the coach Sam­son Si­a­sia tu­tored Un­der-23, side but this time out, there is a new twist.

Nige­ri­ans will never for­get Ebbe Sand and the Dan­ish squad who put Nige­ria to the sword in the sec­ond round game of the 1998 World Cup.

With the Su­per Ea­gles show­ing some real swag­ger in the group stage, beat­ing Spain and Bul­garia, many felt that Den­mark would be a stroll in the park. It was not meant to be. Den­mark smashed Nige­ria 4-1 in one of the Ea­gles' worst ever de­feats in the World Cup. In fact, the Su­per Ea­gles have never con­ceded that many goals in a sin­gle game at the World Cup.

To add more spice to the en­counter, Nige­ria and Den­mark met at the Su­won Tour­na­ment in June 2016. It was a scan­dalous end to the game for the men in green, a re­sult no one saw com­ing. The Danes ran Nige­rian ragged. The Dream Team VI lost the game 6-2, and it could have been worse than that but for some com­i­cal fin­ish­ing by Den­mark. Sam­son Si­a­sia and his wards had no an­swer to the su­pe­rior fire-power of the Dan­ish side.

Erhun Obanor gifted Den­mark a penalty early in the game but goal­keeper Em­manuel Daniel stood tall to deny Ni­co­lai Brock-Mad­sen.

But it went down­hill from there. Obanor scored an own goal while try­ing to clear a cross as Emil Larsen scored a hat­trick be­fore Pa­trick da Silva and Emil­iano Mar­con­des added theirs for a 6-0 score­line.

Two late goals by Ab­dul­rah­man added some re­spect to the score­line, but con­ced­ing six goals did not show the stuff of cham­pi­ons from om Nige­ria.

That re­sult will def­i­nitely res­onate in the minds of the play­ers and of­fi­cials whoo will hope to pay Den­mark back with equal mea­sure.

Den­mark fin­ished be­hindind Brazil in group A to set a date with Nige­ria, who topped group B de­spitepite los­ing 2-0 to Colom­bia.

De­spite the is­sues­sues as­so­ci­ated with the team ar­riv­ing hours be­fore kick-off of the first group game again­stainst Ja­pan, the Dream Team m weath­ered the storm and de­feated Ja­pan 5-4 in a game full of at­tack­ing verve with an equal mea­sure of calami­tous de­fend­ing.

A much im­proved sec­ond­cond group game saw the team de­feat­ing Swe­den 1-0 cour­tesy of f a Sadiq Umar headed goal.

Though Den­markk was an­ni­hi­lated 4-0 by hosts s Brazil in their last group game, thee Euro­peans will prove a hand­ful for Nige­ria, as theyh are very ro­bust, com­pact and they play as a unit.

Sam­son Si­a­sia rested five play­ers for the Colom­bia game in a bid to give oth­ers a chance to shine. That did not work out as ex­pected, and to make mat­ters worse, the medics will be sweat­ing on the fit­ness of star man Oghenekaro Etebo. The nippy f o r wa r d w a s s t retched out of the field in the lat­ter stages of the last group game against Colom­bia, and is a doubt for the Den­mark clash. Striker Ju­nior Ajayi, who has not played any part in the Olympics so far, is also on the treat­ment ta­ble and in a race against time to play against Den­mark. Nige­ria will in­deed go out on Satur­day to try and bury the ghosts of past de­feats by the Scan­di­na­vians, and take them­selves one step closer to the gold medal.

Other quar­ter-fi­nal matches will see Por­tu­gal take on Ger­many, Brazil will clash with Colom­bia, and Hon­duras, who have sur­prised many at the games, will bat­tle for a semi­fi­nal with South Korea. — su­per­

Oghenekaro Etebo Sam­son Si­a­sia

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