U-23 AFCON: Nigeria beat Senegal to clinch Rio Olympic ticket


Nigeria national U-23 team, the Dream Team VI, have qualified for the 2016 Rio Olympics following a 1-0 victory over hosts, Senegal, on Wednesday.

The young Eagles defied all odds to become the first African side to be guaranteed a spot in Brazil with a spirited performance in the semi-final of the 2015 Africa U23 Championship at the Leopold Sedar Senghor Stadium, Dakar.

Warri wolves midfielder, Oghenekaro Etebo scored his third of the tournament from the spot to earn his country their first Olympic place in eight years.

The game started on an even note with both sides playing with caution – but it was Senegal that had the most chances as the game progressed. ,

Their dominance paid dividends in the latter stages of the first half when Nigeria goalkeeper, Emmanuel Daniel brought down Cheickou Dieng for a penalty.

The goalie made amends by providing a wonderful save from a poorly taken spot kick by Ibrahima Sory Keita.

With both sides struggling to find the target, Nigeria coach, Samson Siasia, brought on the top scorer from the recent Under-17 World Cup, Victor Osimhen, to replace Godspower Tower.

The match changed in the 75th minute when Nigeria were awarded a penalty after Senegal’s Ousseynou Thioune, who was sent off, handled the ball as he collided with his goalkeeper, Pape Ndiaye.

Etebo stepped up in the 77th minute to do what Keita was unable to do earlier and net an emphatic effort that Ndiaye had little chance of saving.

The 10 men of Senegal pushed for the equaliser that would have taken the game to penalties but even with five minutes added time, they were unable to break down the stubborn Nigerian defence.

Siasia’s side have now kept a second consecutive clean sheet after conceding four in their first two games.

The tactician will be making his second appearance at the Olympics – his last was a second-place finish in 2008.

Nigeria face the winner of South Africa and Algeria in the U-23 AFCON final on Saturday.