Nigeria crushed Belgium 4-1 in the semi-finals of the men's Olympic football tournament at Shanghai Stadium to reach the final. The 1996 Atlanta Olympic champions will spar for gold against Argentina, their defeated rivals in the 1996 final.
Nigeria thumped surprise package Belgium 4-1 on Tuesday to reach the Olympic soccer final for the first time since winning the tournament 12 years ago.
Striker Chinedu Ogbuke Obasi scored twice in the second half after Olubayo Adefemi had given the exuberant but erratic Africans an early lead.
Chibuzor Okonkwo completed the rout while Victor Anchebi sidefooted wide with the goal at his mercy for arguably the worst miss of the competition.
Belgium, surprise winners over Italy in the quarter-finals, were on equal terms for the first hour but then fell apart.
The Olympic tournament is restricted to under-23 teams with three overage players permitted per side.
Nigeria, publicly criticised by coach Samson Siasia for lack of discipline earlier in the tournament, went ahead in the 17th minute when Okonkwo's shot hit a defender and fell nicely into the path of Adefemi who stroked the ball home from 12 metres.
Solomon Okoronkwo wasted another Nigerian chance when he broke clear of the Belgian defence but shot across the face of goal.
Then Peter Odemwingie turned the ball wide after Ogbuke Obasi slipped past his marker with some clever stepovers.
Belgium made a lively start to the second half with Faris Haroun blasting the ball against the crossbar and Tom De Mul forcing Ambruse Vanzekin to make a difficult save in successive attacks.
Nigeria increased their lead in the 59th minute when substitute Anichebe rolled the ball into the penalty area and Ogbuke Obasi slipped the offside trap to sidefoot home.
Long-range goals from Ogbuke Obasi and Okonkwo doubled Nigeria's tally in the last 20 minutes before substitute Laurent Ciman rifled a late consolation for Belgium.
Date created : 2008-08-19