Nigeria’s national Olympic football squad, Dream Team, silenced the Brazilian crowd with a 1-0 pipping of their national Olympic team, the Selecao, in an Olympics preparation friendly played Friday morning at Estádio Kléber Andrade in Vitoria, Brazil.
Ubong Ekpai fired the match winner for Nigeria U23
just four minutes into the game off a rebound from Sodiq Popoola shot at goal on reception of Ezekiel Imoh’s pull out.
Shocked at the early goal, Brazil threw everything at Nigeria, coming close in the 19th minute through Felipe Anderson and on 27 minutes when Alisson’s angled header crashed against the crossbar.
The Selecao who are yet to win Olympics football gold seemed to have created better chances but they failed severally to put them away as goalkeeper Emmanuel Daniel and his defence line resolutely denied them any cheer. The introductions of Wallace, Clayton and Wendell in the second half still could not change the result as the Nigerians determined to go home with the win.
Clayton threatened the Nigerian goal just two minutes after his introduction but goalkeeper Daniel was alive to his responsibilities. Malcolm and Andreas Pereira of Manchester United were also brought on but they just could not get past the Dream Team backline.
Nigeria also made four changes which saw Victor Osimhen come in for Taiwo Awoniyi, Junior Ajayi for Ekpai, Amaefule Chizoba for Keigo and Sincere Seth for Ovbokh
Pleased with doggedness and victory of his boys, the interim head coach of the Nigerian side, Fatai Amoo said the display has justified their emergence as the African champions and shown that they really can win gold at the Olympics in Rio come August.
Coach Amoo admitted that his boys struggled to contain the hosts in the first half as they launched their attack from the left wing but that it was assuring that the team was able to redress the lapses in the second half.
“The first half was very difficult for us but it is expected, having in mind that we scored an early goal and as such they would come all out against us to get the equalizer but I must give my boys a lot of credit for holding their own.
“The boys did a great job if you recall that 80 percent of them were just meeting one another for the first time and we needed to see all of them in match situation. I’m happy we have seen them and this is hopiing that as we play more friendlies we would discover more players that will compete for jerseys before the Olympics proper.
“No doubt, our goalkeeper kept us in the game with a number of great saves before he was substituted. Even the substitute (Yusuf Mohammed) also did his bit. All in all, some players like Ezekiel Imoh and Sodiq Popoola were outstanding and I am happy for the team.”