Nigeria cruise into Olympic football finalAugust 19th, 2008 - 10:21 pm ICT by IANS
Shanghai, China, Aug 19 (DPA) Nigeria Tuesday secured their place in the final of the men’s Olympic football tournament with a convincing 4-1 victory against Belgium in the Shanghai stadium.The 1996 champions, who beat Argentina in the final in Atlanta to become the first African country to win a gold medal in Olympic football, were in total control after taking the lead through Olubayo Adefemi in the 18th minute.
Chinedu Obasi Ogbuke, whose Bundesliga club Hoffenheim had called on him to return to Germany after the Court of Arbitration for Sport ruled that clubs did not have to release their players for the tournament, added a second on the hour.
The striker scored his brace with a long-range effort from 30 metres that gave goalkeeper Logan Bailly no chance in the 72nd minute.
Chibuzor Okonkwo made it four for his side just six minutes later before Ciman Laurent pulled one back for the Belgians two minutes from the end.
Adefemi said that his side had been under pressure. “Seeing what we achieved in Atlanta in 1996, everyone was waiting for us to do just the same. But we held on really well and won.”
Nigerian coach Samson Siasia is now optimistic that the side can go on to win the gold. “We are going for gold. It was unbelievable.”
Nigeria’s opponent in the final will be decided later Tuesday in the semi-final in Beijing between Argentina and Brazil.