Nigeria’s road to the gold medal match at the Men’s Olympic Football Tournament Rio 2016 was cut short after the ‘Dream Team VI’ came up against an organised and resolute German defence in a 2-0 loss in the semi-finals. Nigeria had chances early in the match at the Arena Corinthians in Sao Paulo, but they were unable to capitalise on them and it proved costly in the end.
Nigeria head coach Samson Siasia spoke with FIFA.com about learning from the defeat and his aims for the team ahead of their bronze medal match against Honduras.
“We didn’t play well in the match [against Germany],” Siasia said. “We’ve been playing better than what we showed against Germany. There were too many mistakes from us. The Germans are a very good side and they are tactically very, very sound.
“They were running behind and we couldn’t defend them. We did have chances in the first half to score but we didn’t utilise them. That’s what it is in football. If you get to this stage, you have to take your chances.
“All of that to say, we did not play well. It’s like the boys were sleeping right from the first half. But we take this one and hopefully we can go for the bronze medal.”
Awaiting ‘Dream Team VI’ are Honduras, who fell to hosts Brazil 6-0 earlier on Wednesday at the Maracana, in the bronze medal match in Belo Horizonte on Saturday.
“We still have something to play for,” Siasia continued. “We didn’t deserve to win against Germany with the way we played, so we should just forget about it and look forward to the next one and at least we will try to have the bronze medal going back home.”
Against the Germans in the semi-finals, coach Siasia’s side had 12 shots and two shots on target, so against Honduras, they will need to be a lot more efficient in front of goal like they showed earlier in the tournament.
Everything in life is a learning process. It’s all about the bronze now. You don’t want to go home without anything.
“It is when you lose a game like this, it actually beats you down," Siasia said. "That’s what life is all about. You have to be a man about it. Get yourself up together again and you still have something to play for.
“You’re better off having a bronze medal than not having anything at all. That’s the only way we can motivate them and it’s going to be very, very tough. They wanted to go to Rio but you need to earn it to go there.”
Honduras will present a different challenge than Germany from a tactical perspective, but make no mistake, Los Catrachos will be hungry to respond positively after a disappointing outing in Rio de Janeiro against Brazil.
“We need to play [against them] the same way we’ve been playing,” Siasia said. “There were too many mistakes and against a German side like we came up against, if you don’t utilise your chances, it becomes a problem and that’s what actually happened. It was a learning experience. We’re all learning every day.”
Nigeria started Rio 2016 full of energy and promise with a thrilling 5-4 win over Japan and then a 1-0 victory against Sweden. They fell 2-0 to Colombia in their final group stage match but they were already guaranteed a first-place finish before that game. In their quarter-final against Denmark, Nigeria looked comfortable and shored up their defence to win 2-0 before coming up against Germany.
“We’ve been very great. The mentality has been right. What did we want? We wanted the gold medal and that’s what we were shooting for. They came out without reservation and went all the way and tried to see if they could get it.
“Everything in life is a learning process. If you find yourself at a stage like this again, you want to do better. It’s all about the bronze now. You don’t want to go home without anything.”
The Nigerians have a chance on Saturday to show they have learned from the setback against Germany when they battle Honduras for bronze and a place on the podium.