Nigeria, Mali make Olympic progress

Nigeria showed their strength away from home with a hard-fought 0-0 draw in Congo at the weekend to advance 2-1 on aggregate in an Olympic Football Tournament qualifier.
In November, Nigeria will join hosts Senegal, Algeria, Egypt, Mali, South Africa, Tunisia and Zambia at an Olympic tournament, with three 2016 Rio Games places up for grabs.
After wasting many first-leg chances, their coach Samson Siasia vowed that his team would attack a Congolese side guided by veteran French coach Claude Le Roy at Stade Municipal in Atlantic oil hub Pointe-Noire.
Keeping that promise, the visitors spent much of the opening half on the offensive with Usman Mohammed, Daniel Etor and Oghenekaro Etebo threatening to score. Even during a more balanced second half, Nigeria created the better chances and substitute Aminu Umar squandered a late chance to win the second leg.
Nigeria have been the most successful African football nation at the Olympics, winning the 1996 Atlanta tournament and finishing runners-up to Argentina in Beijing seven years ago.
Mali followed up a solitary-goal away victory over Gabon by winning the return match 2-0 at Stade Modibo Keita in Bamako.
The Gabonese had to score first to have a realistic chance of salvaging the tie, and they did after 68 minutes. Unfortunately for the visitors, the goal came at the wrong end of the pitch with Mboudou Karl putting the ball into his net.
Adama Traore added a second Mali goal a minute from time to earn his team an easier-than-expected passage to Senegal for the 28 November-12 December tournament. Mali qualified once for the Olympics football tournament, topping a 2004 Athens group before losing to Italy in the quarter-finals.

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