Mikel John Obi’s dream of inspiring a generation in Nigeria is edging closer as the Super Eagles prepare for a Olympic quarter-final against Denmark at the 2016 Games.
Chelsea midfielder Mikel and his international team-mates breezed into the knockout stages with two wins in their opening two games against Japan and Sweden, before losing their final Group B game to Colombia.
Nigeria’s opponents Denmark were beaten 4-0 by hosts Brazil in their last group game and are outsiders for a medal finish, but showed a tighter defence with clean sheets and four points against South Africa and Iraq.
But the Super Eagles shook off early chaos in actually arriving at the Olympics, and it would take a bold punter to bet against them going all the way in Rio.
The last time Nigeria U-23s and Denmank met earlier this year in a friendly, the Europeans trounced the African U-23 champions 6-2 in Suwon, Korea.
But Mikel is confident his side can seal a semi-final berth on Wednesday against either Portugal or Germany, who meet at the Mane Garrincha Stadium in Brasilia at 5pm.
“It is going to be a difficult game against Denmark,” Mikel said at the pre- match press conference.
“It is going to be one of those games where if you lose concentration you are out so we have to make sure we are fully concentrated.
“We have to make sure we dictate the game and are the ones always on top of the game. We have to play very well tomorrow, end of, if we want to progress. But if we did not think we could win we would be back in Nigeria.”
Meanwhile, star striker Oghenekaro Etebo has been ruled out of the quarter- final clash against Denmark on Saturday due to injury.
This was revealed by media officer of the team, Timi Ebikagboro, on his Twitter handle on Saturday morning.
Etebo, who is Nigeria’s top scorer with four goals, was stretchered off in the U-23 Eagles’ 2-0 loss to Colombia in their last group game on Wednesday.
Ebikagboro also revealed that Junior Ajayi is now available for selection after recovering from the injury he sustained during camping in Atlanta, USA.
“Medical team rule out Etebo from quarter-finals but will be available if team progresses to semi-finals, Junior Ajayi available for quarter-finals,” Ebikagboro tweeted.
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