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Nigeria must win or face Olympic elimination

CRITICISM: Uchechi

FORMER OLYMPIC gold medallists Nigeria take on Senegal in the African under-23 championship on Tuesday (November 29), knowing that defeat would end their chances of making the London 2012 Games.

The tournament acts as an Olympic qualifying campaign and the Dream Team V suffered a surprise 1-0 defeat to hosts Morocco in their Group A clash on Saturday (November 26).

Nigeria’s poor showing in the match has attracted lots of criticism and striker Danny Uchechi, who was recently released by League One side Sheffield Wednesday, stressed that the team need to work harder:

“We need to have time together as a team, train together and get to know each other well. We should have done better; hopefully on the training ground we will try to correct our mistakes.”

With the national team failing to qualify for the 2012 African Cup of Nations and the women’s Olympic football team missing out on the Games, failure for the under-23’s would cap off a disastrous year for the country, something which coach Austin Eguavoen admits puts them under pressure:

“You can't say we aren't under pressure - I'm under severe pressure,” said Eguavoen.

“This is the only thing left and all eyes are here now and that makes it a little more difficult.”

Nigeria became the first African team to win gold at the Olympics in 1996 and they finished as runners-up in Beijing in 2008.

Senegal also lost their opening game 1-0 against Algeria whilst in Group B Egypt beat Gabon 1-0 and South Africa and Ivory Coast played out a 1-1 draw. The second round of games in that Group are being played on Wednesday (November 30) with Gabon facing South Africa and Egypt taking on Ivory Coast.

Two teams from each Group progress to the semi-finals, where the top three teams automatically qualify for the Games.

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