The Opening Ceremony of the Rio 2016 Olympic Games is now just a day away, the start of the men’s football tournament a mere five hours and Nigeria’s first match eleven hours. And now, guess where the Nigerian football team is currently…
They are still in Atlanta, Georgia.
It’s been either a series of unfortunate events or disastrous mismanagment by the Nigerian team officials or maybe both. Originally they were scheduled to arrive in Rio on July 29th, well ahead of the tournament in order to get all things settled there, do some training etc and overall have a quiet and focused preparation for the first match, but they had booked no tickets for the flight. Apparently they had booked some for a flight last weekend, but they weren’t on that plane either. From what I’ve read, there seemed to have been some difficulties with the payment for the tickets.
And this morning the latest news coming from the 1996 Olympic host city were that they had tickets for a flight today, they had even paid for them, but now the plane was ‘too small’. Whatever ‘too small’ means in that context. Overbooked? Don’t think so. They are a group of 18 players plus coaches plus staff. Which airline would sell them as a group 25 to 30 tickets while overbooking the flight?
And indeed: a team official told BBC: ‘The players were uncomfortable with the size of the plane.’
Anyway, they now seem to have been succesful in ‘finding a bigger plane’ and hope to arrive before the kick-off at 6pm local time (midnight CEST). Well, the best of luck with that!
By the way, Atlanta happens to be the exact place were the Nigerian ‘Super Eagles’ won the Olympic gold medal, twenty years ago. So, maybe they just really liked it there…
PS. They have indeed made it in time… And they haven beaten Japan 5:4 in an absolutely incredible match. With Oghenekaro Etebo alone scoring four times, with a ‘natural hat-trick’ in the second half.