The Nigerian side will travel 272 kilometres east of Bei jing to Qinhuangdao to face fellow Africans, Cote D’Ivoire, in the quarter-finals of the men’s football event Saturday.
It will be the fifth time in history that both teams will be meeting at Under-23 level.
Nigeria won three of the four previous encounters including a 4 March, 1995, game in Abidjan.
The venue of Saturday’s match, the Olympic Sports Centre Stadium, seats only 33, 600 people and therefore the smallest of the soccer venues for the Olympics.
The match-up results from Nigeria toping Group B while Cote d’Ivoire placed second in Group A after defeating hard-fighting Australia 1-0, courtesy of a goal by Salomon Kalou, the scorer of the 66th minute lone goal with which the Elephants beat the Super Eagles at Ghana 2008 African Cup of Nations earlier this year.
The Ivorians have always depended on him and he will be the main mischief maker against Nigeria Saturday.
Emmanuel Kone, the Ivorian midfielder, underscored the importance of Kalou to his team, saying “He has a lot of experience and it was due to him that we were able to win the game and move on to the quarter-finals.”
The Ivorian coach, Gerard Gili, is already looking forward to a difficult match in which Africa is already guaranteed a semi-final ticket. ”We played a good game tonight (against Australia ) and now we will face a difficult contest against Nigeria.
“The quarter-final will be a classic African match-up between two teams that know each other very well. It should be interesting. We have some good players with good qualities and hopefully we can keep going,” said Coach Gili.
Brazil v. Cameroon – Shenyang
Italy v. Belgium – Beijing
Argentina v. Holland – Shangai
Nigeria v. Cote d’Ivoire – Qinhuangdao