Olympic Preview: Nigeria - Argentina

What: Olympic Games Final
Who: Nigeria vs Argentina
When: 23 August 2008, 12:00 China Standard Time
Where: National Stadium, Beijing
Referee: Viktor Kassai (Hungary)

The Super Eagles and the Albiceleste have a long and storied history together (see here for an overview of the dramatic days of the mid 1990s), and another chapter will be written on Saturday afternoon as the two meet in the final of the Olympic Games...

Two In A Row?

Not since the Hungarian side of the 1970s has any country managed two consecutive football gold at the men's football tournament, but Sergio Batista's Argentina stand on the brink of attaining an historic duo of medals on Saturday.

Having won every single match so far the albiceleste can be considered narrow favourites, but it is their last performance that has truly raised hopes in South America.

That comprised a barnstorming 3-0 win over Brazil, with Lionel Messi and Juan Román Riquelme both being up to their old, attacking tricks. What's more, Sergio 'Kun' Agüero finally got on the scoresheet - and he did so twice.

Argentina will think back twelve years to the disaster in Atlanta when considering this fixture, but given that they have arguably the tournament's strongest squad on paper they will be confident enough that history shall not repeat.

Where Eagles Dare

Nigeria, meanwhile, have banded together in some style after their group stage adventure ended in difficult fashion.

Despite winning 2-1 against the United States, coach Samson Siasia publicly slammed his players, leading to a period of disharmony in the dressing room that may even have seen some squad members quit.

But the peace pipe has well and truly been smoked, the Dream Team IV running out winners over the Ivory Coast in the quarters before rallying yet further to thrash Belgium 4-1 in the semi-finals.

As such the Super Eagles are guaranteed at least silver, although Siasia will be determined to be one of the special few to manage gold as both player and manager.



07 Aug 08 Netherlands DREW 0-0
10 Aug 08 Japan WON 2-1
13 Aug 08 USA WON 2-1
16 Aug 08 Ivory Coast WON 2-0
19 Aug 08 Belgium WON 4-1


07 Aug 08 Ivory Coast WON 2-1
10 Aug 08 Australia WON 1-0
13 Aug 08 Serbia WON 2-0
16 Aug 08 Netherlands WON 2-1
19 Aug 08 Brazil WON 3-0



Coach Samson Siasia has no injury or suspension worries to contend with. Ebenezer Ajilore had picked up a second booking in two games against Belgium but has nonetheless been cleared to take part after the quarter-final yellow card was cleared from the suspension record. Solomon Okoronkwo is able to take part, having recovered from a toe injury. After the great performance in the last game, Siasia probably won't make too many changes.

Possible Starting XI: Vanzekin; Olubayo, Apam, Adeleye, Okonkwo; OkoronkwoKaita, Ajilore, Edu; Obinna, Odemwingie.


Goalkeeper Oscar Ustari is out with his severe injury, meaning that Sergio Romero will once again start at the back. Nicolas Pareja, the versatile defender, would have been suspended after picking up his second consecutive booking in the semi-finals but for the recent FIFA ruling. Like Nigeria, the thrashing of Brazil will imbue coach Batista with confidence, meaning that few changes are in the offing.

Possible Starting XI: Romero; Zabaleta, Pareja, Garay, Monzón; Gago, Mascherano; Messi, Riquelme, Di María; Agüero.


Nigeria - Peter Odemwingie: The Lokomotiv Moscow man didn't manage to find the net in the last game - indeed, he's scored only once at the whole tournament - but his pace and invention give the Super Eagles plenty of options up front. Also look out for Chibuzor Okonkwo, the free agent, right-sided, goal-scoring full-back who struck twice against the Belgians.

Argentina - Lionel Messi: An integral member of Batista's side, it seemed as though Messi wasn't going to play in Beijing at all due to his club's wishes. Nonetheless Argentines everywhere will be glad that he's taken part - and in some style, too. Fernando Gago of Real Madrid is also worth a look after his superb showing against Brazil.


In what could be one of the most exciting games of the tournament so far, a slow start will eventually give way to a barrage of goals. At least, we hope so. In the end, Argentina will come out on top, although Nigeria will not be disgraced by any means.

Nigeria 2-4 Argentina
Olympic Preview: Nigeria - Argentina Reviewed by admin Ucop on 5:29 PM Rating: 5

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