Nigeria’s national under-23 team got their Rio 2016 campaign underway with a thrilling 5-4 victory over Japan at the Arena da Amazonia in Manaus, Brazil.
Samson Siasia and his men only arrived Manaus about six hours before kick-off, but they put on a strong attacking showing to secure victory over the Asian champions.
Sadiq Umar put Nigeria in the lead after just six minutes, but Japan drew level almost immediately, with Shinzo Koroki converting a 9th-minute penalty after Stanley Amuzie committed an infringement in the box.
It was not a night for great defending- and the rapid start to the match continued when Oghenekaro Etebo brilliantly took down and finished Shehu Abdullahi’s cross to put Nigeria back in front, but Japan completed a run of four goals in five wild minutes when Takumi Minamino slotted the ball under the legs of goalkeeper Emmanuel Daniel to take the score to 2-2 after just 13 minutes.
That rush of goals was followed by a period of calm, but Etebo restored Nigeria’s lead just before the break when he capitalized on some poor Japanese defending.
Etebo would take the match away from the Japanese in the second half- first slotting in a 51st-minute penalty before showing great composure and technique to find the back of the net from distance after the Japanese goalkeeper cleared the ball straight at him.
There was to be some late drama as goals from Takumo Asano and Musashi Suzuki threatened a Japanese comeback, but Nigeria held on to get their Rio 2016 campaign off to a winning start.
Nigeria now sit on top of Group B after Sweden and Colombia played out a 2-2 draw in the other match of the group.