Sadiq Umar’s double and Aminu Umar strikes sealed bronze medal for Nigeria at the Rio 2016 Olympics following a 3-2 third place victory against Honduras in Belo Honrizonte.
Oghenekaro Etebo’s absence for the third match in a row due to injury failed to move Samson Siasia’s side that impressed and outscored the La Bicolor Olimpica despite Antony Lozano and Marcelo Pereira late strike at the Estadio Mineirao.
No doubt the cheering return of Okechukwu Azubuike looked a brought back of the missing fulcrum as John Obi Mikel got more attacking spaces to notch assists, but the Umars’ brilliance made the most difference.
The African side put behind the disappointments of missing the final at the expense of the German machines and trouble-plagued campaign against La Bicolor Olimpica.
Bearing in mind the burden of helping the nation avoid a horrible no medal campaign, they began brightly and dominated for over an hour, but slumped to only survive Honduras late fightback for the bronze eventually.
The Central Americans had their rare moments at some point with pacy Alberth Elis, but it was the Africans’ immaculate goalkeeper Emmanuel Daniel that was spot on with a good save in 11th minute. And he was yet again denied after he outran his markers in the 33rd minute.
Sadiq came alive in the contest after he failed to impress in the semis as he wasted no time tapping in Mikel’s brilliance surge into the area and sublime cross in the 34th minute.
Five minutes into the second half, Aminu Umar made it 2-0 for Nigeria as the Siasia’s men kept on the pressure against the Pinto’s side.
In the 56th minute, Sadiq Umar grabbed his brace for the Africans’ third goal of the game, putting the Hondurans comeback hopes far from possible.
But just moments after the hour mark, Honduras started turning things around as they dominated the play and pulled one back through Lozano in the 71st minute.
Against all odds, they kept up their good showing and were rewarded another goal as Oscar Salas’ free kick was headed home by Pereira in the 86th minute.
However, the disjointed Nigerian side reorganised and held to their narrow lead till the blast of the whistle to secure the bronze.