Nigeria have qualified for the 2016 Rio Olympics after defeating hosts Senegal in the semi-final of the 2015 Africa U23 Championship.
Etebo Oghenekaro’s penalty in the 75th minute was all the Dream Team VI needed to ease past the hosts after Ousseynou Thioune had handled the ball in his penalty area to prevent Eyo Ebong from scoring.
Ibrahima Keita failed to put his side ahead in the first half after seeing his penalty saved by man of the match Emmanuel Daniel who guessed the right way.
With this victory, the Dream Team will now face the winner between Algeria and South Africa for the 2015 Africa U23 title with the 2016 Olympics men’s football event ticket in their kitty.
As in the first half, Nigeria weathered pressure and finished stronger – Segun Oduduwa’s goal-line clearance and further heroics from Daniel denying Ismaila Sarr, Keita and Samba Ndiaye.
Parading four foreign based players in their starting XI against Nigeria’s one [Junior Ajayi] , Serigne Saliou Dia’s boys troubled the Dream Team VI who were without captain Azubuike Okechukwu, Augustine Dimgba and Taiwo Awoniyi .
Senegal’s pace and drive in attack left Dream Team VI disorganised early on and when Sarr hacked over from El Hadhi Pape’s 10th-minute pass, it marked a rare moment of encouragement for Saliou Dia’s team.
Not too long, goalkeeper Daniel made a brilliant save after denying AS Douanes Ibrahima Keita in a one-on-one situation.
In the closing stages of the first half, the hosts were awarded a questionable penalty after Cheikou Dieng fell inexpensively to Daniel’s attempt to save his shot. The resultant kick was saved with by the Nigerian goalie who dived towards the right direction.
A drop in tempo early in the second half clearly suited Nigeria, but Junior Ajayi could not capitalise when a patient spell of possession sent a half-chance his way.
The CS Sfaxien forward was wasteful again in the 65th minute having been teed up by the impressive Muhammed Usman.
Nigeria got their only goal in the game when Etebo sent goalkeeper Ndiaye the wrong way from the penalty mark after Thioune had handled the ball intentionally – which got him sent off.
Senegal’s defence became disjointed in the closing minutes with Siasia’s team playing with great confidence.