Nigeria’s men’s soccer team has run into a number of obstacles in the days leading up to their Olympic tournament opener against Japan, which is scheduled to begin at 9:00 p.m. Eastern time. There have been disputes over payments from the Nigerian Football Federation and the size of the plane the team was originally expected to board to fly from Atlanta to Manaus, casting some doubt on whether the team would make their opening match.
Thursday afternoon the team finally arrived in Manaus, just under seven hours before their match against Japan is set to kick off. The question now is whether or not that will be enough time for the team to get over the jet lag that can come with such a long trip, and playing in the rain forest climate of Manaus likely won’t help with the adjustment either. But at least the Nigerians will be on the field when they’re supposed to be.
Nigeria, which won gold at the 1996 Summer Olympics in Atlanta, and Japan are joined in Group B by Sweden and Colombia. Among the players on the roster are Chelsea midfield Mikel John Obi, who takes up one of the three slots for overage players that each team is allowed.