With much being made of Nigeria’s travels to Brazil for the Rio Olympics, their Group B match against Japan in Manaus (9 p.m. EST on NBCSN) won’t lack for attention. In addition to airing on NBCSN, the match will also be streamed on NBCOlympics.com and on the NBC Sports app.
The Nigerians arrived in Manaus Thursday afternoon, less than seven hours before the scheduled kickoff time, so it’s anyone’s guess how well the team will perform. Their roster includes the likes of Chelsea midfielder Mikel John Obi, with the team looking to win the country’s second gold medal in men’s soccer with the first being won in 1996. Nigeria only used two of the three slots FIFA allows teams to use for overage players in the Olympic soccer competition. Among those under 23 years of age on the Nigerian roster is 19-year old forward Umar Sadiq, who plays for AS Roma in Serie A. Sadiq was loaned to Roma by Spezia for the 2015-16 campaign, and after the season his move to the Italian capital was made permanent.
Japan, which won the AFC U-23 Championships in January, counters with a roster that includes recent Arsenal signee Takuma Asano. Asano is one of three players on the squad who play their club soccer outside of Japan, with forward Yuya Kubo (BSC Young Boys in Switzerland) and Takumi Minamino (Red Bull Salzburg in Austria) being the others. Kubo scored a team-best three goals at the AFC U-23 Championships, with Asano tallying two goals on Japan’s run to the title and the automatic spot in the Olympic tournament that came with it.
Also in Group B are Colombia and Sweden.