Uruguay next up for knockout Nigeria
Having proved their ability to rise to the occasion so far at Rio 2007, the Charrúas will need to dig deep yet again when they take on the powerful Nigerians. Inconsistent performances in the group phase meant they were dependent on results elsewhere to go through. But when the gods smiled on them, the Uruguayans responded, hanging tough to beat Japan with a much improved defensive display. More of that will be required if they are to make headway against the Beach Eagles. The Africans have shown there is more to their game than physical strength, and with a clutch of nimble forwards to call on they are not short of options up front.
Opposing keepers Abdullahi Isa and Diego have been the most effective performers between the posts in Rio and their agile reflexes could prove decisive on Thursday.
While Venancio Ramos has a full squad to call on, opposite number Kelechi Emeteole could lose defender Osahon Uhunmwangho, who received a provisional suspension for unsportsmanlike gestures he made to UAE coach Marcelo Mendes. On the bright side Ifeanyi Onigbo comes back after serving a one-match ban.
Nigeria and Uruguay are about to go head-to-head for the first time in the finals. The Celeste have a win and a two defeats to their name against African opposition, beating South Africa 7-3 in 2005 but losing 1-0 on penalties to Cameroon in 2006 and 5-2 to Senegal this year.
Argentina are the only CONMEBOL representatives to have faced Nigeria, both times in the group phase. The Africans went down 5-4 in 2006 but exacted revenge with a 5-3 win earlier this week.
We're expecting a great game with Nigeria. The Africans have shown they are a quality side and although they might have a physical advantage over us, we've worked on a few moves with our strikers that could make all the difference - Pampero, Uruguay defender.