Nigeria progressed to the quarter-finals at the Men’s Olympic Football Tournament Rio 2016 after a 1-0 victory over Sweden in Group B thanks to a Sadiq Umar header at the Amazonia Arena in Manaus.
For a large part of the match both sides played conservatively, but it was Nigeria who looked more threatening in attack. Fresh from scoring four goals last time out, Oghenekaro Etebo attempted several shots in the half—with his right foot, left foot and with his head—but he was unable to get the better of Sweden goalkeeper Andreas Linde.
Nigeria eventually found the opener six minutes from time, when Stanley Amuzie delivered a pinpoint, curling cross in open play from the left wing that found Umar and the Roma man made no mistake, scoring with a diving header.
The Africans continued their dominance in the second half, and just three minutes in, captain John Obi Mikel fired a well-driven shot from the top of the area saved by Linde. The Swedish goalkeeper had to be alert four minutes later when Etebo dribbled inside the corner of the penalty box and attempted a curling effort, but once again, Linde saved.
Coach Hakan Ericson used all three of his substitutes – Ken Sema, Muamer Tankovic and Jacob Une Larsson – to try and give his team a new dimension but, in the end, Nigeria’s backline was up to the challenge and held on for all three points.
On Wednesday, Nigeria will close out group play against Colombia in Sao Paulo, while Sweden have a must-win match ahead against Japan in Salvador if they are going to continue their Rio 2016 journey.
Meanwhile, Portugal and Nigeria are the only sides so far to make sure of their places in the last eight while Fiji and Algeria the only teams who are already out of the competition.