Nigeria’s Dream Team VI will play no part in Saturday’s final of the male soccer event of the Olympics, after falling to a 2-0 defeat to Germany.
Nigeria went into the match without the injured Oghenekaro Etebo, for the second match running, and also without Azubuike Okechukwu, had been captain of the team until Mikel Obi took over at the Olympics.
Germany opened scoring in the 10th minute when Lukas Klostermann was left with the simple task of tapping in a low drive from the right flank that evaded the entire Dream Team defence, including goalkeeper Emmanuel Daniel.
Nigeria got a platter-of-gold opportunity to equalise just three minutes later, a mistimed kick by goalkeeper Tim Horn gifting the ball to Sadiq Umar, but the AS Roma striker hit a first-time effort at Horn, and failed to pass the second chance to the better-placed Mikel.
Germany could have gone two up in the 19th minute when a headed ball fell to Lars Bender, but Daniel closed down the Bayer Leverkusen midfielder to save his effort with an outstretched leg.
When Nigeria attacked on 29 minutes, Umar saw his effort blocked by a German defender inside the penalty zone and managed to squeeze the ball to Mikel this time. The Chelsea midfielder, who has starred in the attacking role behind the strikers at the tournament, dribbled a defender, then another, but his shot at goal was deflected by a defender for a corner.
Maximilian Meyer responded on Germany’s behalf, but his long-range shot sailed over the bar.
Nigeria nearly scored in added time when neat interplay between Imoh Ezekiel, Sadiq Umar and Aminu Umar ended in a through pass to the latter, but last-ditch defending by the Germans pushed the ball out for corner kick before he could pull the trigger.
The first clear-cut chance of the second half went to Arsenal’s Serge Gnabry, but he blasted over the bar from a fairly open angle, with just Daniel to beat and two teammates waiting for a pass.
Mikel would muster a tame free kick at goal after noticing Horn’s bad positioning, but the ball ended up at the side of the net rather than inside it.
Siasia threw in Oluwafemi Ajayi for the tired Sadiq in the 63rd minute, with Saliu Popoola coming on for Ndifreke Udo eight minutes later. Yet the German machines remained more composed on the ball and started to favour possession keeping over attacks.
Germany coach Hrubesch Horst also tried to freshen his team up, replacing Gnabry with Philipp Max on 77 minutes, and Max Meyer with Nils Petersen with five minutes of regulation time left.
The latter substitution turned out a masterstroke, as Peterson it was who diverted home a shot across goal with two minutes to go, to guarantee the points for the Europeans.
Nigeria will now play Hondura for bronze, while Germany and Brazil face off for gold.