All isn’t well with the Nigeria U23 side ahead of their quarter final match with Denmark on Saturday at the Arena Fonte Nova in Salvador, Brazil.
The team has only returned to training after series of complaints over the team’s welfare in Brazil- a situation that also plagued their preparation weeks before the Olympics started. The boycott seemingly was going to derail the team's quest for Gold at the game but for the timely intervention of Nigeria's Ministry of Sports and the President of the Nigeria Football Federation, Amaju Pinnick.
The lingering payment disagreement caused the team their 100 per cent record at the group stage losing 2-0 to Colombia despite winning their first two matches- a 5-4 victory over Japan in the first game and then a hard-fought 1-0 victory over Sweden.
Denmark got to this stage on the backdrop of amassing just four points. A 0-0 draw against Iraq followed by a 1-0 victory over South Africa before Brazil’s 4-0 drubbing.
The last time Nigeria and Denmark met in a competition was at the Suwon International competition where Denmark’s U21’s thrashed Nigeria 6-2. Prior to that, it was another 4-1 drubbing in France ’98 when Denmark defeated Nigeria at the knockout stage.
Samson Siasia will hope that John Mikel Obi’s leadership will guide the team to victory against Denmark despite not having any advantage over the Danes.
Unfortunately, Nigeria’s Oghenekaro Etebo is down with a hamstring injury and will surely be missed with his energetic bursts and an eye for goal. Coach Siasia has the full complement of others players to choose from.
Denmark coach Niels Frederiksen has also gotten his team to shape ahead of the game on Saturday and will rely Denmark’s sole goal score Robert Skov to once again be at his fine best.
Group stage form
Possible line ups
Nigeria U23 starting XI vs. Colombia:
Akpeyi, Ndifreke, Seth,Ekong, Madu, Mikel, Azubuike, Madu, Aminu, Popoola, Sadiq
Denmark U23 starting XI vs. Brazil:
Blaabjerg, Borsting, Brock-Madsen, Desler, Gomes, Gregor, Hojbjerg, Jonsson, Larsen, Maxso, Vibe