Sports loving Nigerians would be smelling medal at the ongoing 2016 Olympic Games when their U-23 Men’s team, the Dream Team V1 face Germany in Rio De Janeiro.
Nigeria’s semi-final clash with Germany at the 2016 Rio Olympics will be an opportunity for the ‘Dream Team’ to get revenge over the European giants who of recent have inflicted misery on Nigerian teams at the youth level.
Germany has always been a bogey team for Nigeria at junior level for the last decade or more and we haven’t had it good against the Germans at any level since the Golden Eaglets beat them 2-0 to win the first ever Fifa U16 (now U17) World Championship.
It is imperative to note that Nigeria won her first ever world football title by defeating Germany. That glorious night in Beijing, China in 1985 will forever be remembered by Nigerians.
The Golden Eaglets against all odds defeated Germany at the Fifa/Kodak U16 competition with goals by Jonathan Akpoborie and Victor Igbinoba. That set the tone for future world U17 triumphs but Nigeria hasn’t had much success against Germany since then.
For starters, it was a double no-show for Nigeria against Germany in 2009.
The Flying Eagles got beat 3-2 by Germany at the Fifa World U20 World Cup held in Egypt. A brace by Kopplin and another goal by Vrancic ensued goals by King Osanga and Rabiu Ibrahim counted for nothing as the Germans eliminated Nigeria in the quarter-final stage.
A few months later, it was the turn of the Golden Eaglets to test their luck at U17 level. The stage was a Group A game at the 2009 Fifa U17 World Cup hosted by Nigeria.
Germany raced into a 3-0 lead courtesy goals by Mario Gotze, Shkrudan Mustafi and Thy but Nigeria made a remarkable come-back to pick a point from the game.
Edafe Egbedi, Stanley Okoro and Kenneth Omerou were the heroes of the day as Nigeria clawed back to tie the game at 3-3 and grab a share of the spoils.
Nigeria’s yo-yo run against Germany will continue again at the 2015 Fifa U20 World Cup in New Zealand.
The Flying Eagles, complete with stars like Taiwo Awoniyi, Isaac Success and Kelechi Iheanacho, were beaten 1-0 by a rampant Germany side in the Round of 16.
Lewin Otzuntali’s 19th-minute goal was enough to send the Flying Eagles packing from the competition at the same stage they did six years prior.
The U23’s will look to banish those ghosts when they face Germany in the semi-final of the football event of the Rio 2016 Olympics.
Coach Samson Siasia and his wards will do well to be wary of Serge Gnabry who is the main man for the Die Mannschaft.
The Arsenal forward has banged in six goals so far in the tournament as he will look to add Nigeria to his scalp.
Nils Petersen will also be one to watch out for in the German set up. He scored five goals in Germany’s 10-0 massacre of Fiji in the group stage and will certainly be a handful.
Germany finished second in Group C behind South Korea to book a place int he quarter-final. The quarters was a walk in the park for the Europeans who smashed Portugal 4-0 to set a date with Nigeria.
Samson Siasia knows his team will be in for a fight as Germany are traditionally a good ‘tournament’ team.
Bits and pieces of spice will boil in the broth as Nigeria get into the mix with the Germans looking to get one over the Europeans and avenge previous knock-out stage defeats.
Nigeria will once again look up to captain John Mikel Obi for leadership as he scored the first goal in the quarter-final match-up against Denmark and has been a leader on and off the pitch for Nigeria.
Oghenekaro Etebo will likely miss the clash but Junior Ajayi will be fully back after playing as a substitute in the last game.
Midfielder Azubuike Okechukwu will miss the semi-final due to accumulated yellow cards while German captain Leon Goretzka is also a doubt for the game.
Germany’s route to the semi-finals
Mexico 2 Germany 2
Germany 10 Fiji 0
Germany 3 South Korea 3
Germany 4 Portugal 0
Nigeria Group stage
Nigeria 5 Japan 4
Sweden 0 Nigeria 1
Colombia 2 Nigeria 0
Nigeria 2 Denmark 0