Rio Olympics: Can U-23 Survive Sweden, Japan, Colombia? | Independent Newspapers Limited
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Rio Olympics: Can U-23 Survive Sweden, Japan, Colombia?

Posted: Apr 15, 2016 at 3:15 am   /   by   /   comments (0)

Chibuike Chukwu
After the Rio Olympics football event draw was conducted on Thursday, Nigeria U-23 team avoided two South American super powers, Brazil and Argentina, which Coach Samson Siasia prayed to avoid.
With his prayers answered, Nigeria group opponents-Sweden, Japan and Colombia- may not be football super power in the sense of Brazil, Argentina and Germany, but these teams will pose a great threat to U-23 aspiration of reaching the knockout stage giving their pedigree.
Sweden and Japan qualified for the Rio Olympics as continental champions winning their Europe and Asia qualifiers respectively.
Sweden, wich the Olympics gold in 1948, won last year’s European U-21 Championship in the Czech Republic defeating Portugal on penalties after a goalless draw in the final.
Rio will be Japan’s 10th appearance at the Olympics, the best record in Asia along Korea Republic, which Japan beat 3-2 in the continental final of the qualifiers.
Japan’s best showing at the men’s football event of the Olympics remains a bronze-winning feat in 1968 when they defeated hosts, Mexico.
Nigeria’s third opponents in the group, Colombia, had to negotiate its way to the tournament through a two-legged playoff against the USA last month on a 3-2 aggregate. The Rio Olympic men’s football event is its fifth appearance.
Nigeria will open its account against Japan on August 4 in Manaus before playing Sweden on August 7 at the same venue. It will play its last group game against Colombia on August 10 in Sau Paulo.
The first two matches against both Japan and Sweden will go a long way in determining Nigeria’s chances of qualifying for the knockout stage.
Coach Fatai Amoo, the team’s assistant coach, believes that the team has been drawn in a “very tough.”
Amoo said: “We are in a tough group; we have to be at our best to move to knockout rounds of the competition.
“Japan is coming up strongly in recent years, Sweden will always be well organised, while we expect Colombia to be powerful and skillful coming from South America
“All the teams will be tough and we will respect them,” he concluded.
Group A of the Men’s draw has host Brazilll, South Africa, Iraq and Denmark with the Brazil playing South Africa in the opening match.
Group C has Fiji, South Korea, Mexico and Germany, while group D has Honduras, Algeri, Portugal and Argentina.
For the women event, Brazil is drawn against China, Sweden and South Africa in group E, while group F has Canada, Australia, Zimbabwe and Germany. Group G has USA, New Zealand, France and Colombia.