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Nigeria soccer team set to arrive hours before opening match vs Japan

France v Nigeria: Round of 16 - 2014 FIFA World Cup Brazil

BRASILIA, BRAZIL - JUNE 30: John Obi Mikel of Nigeria reacts with teammates after being defeated by France 2-0 during the 2014 FIFA World Cup Brazil Round of 16 match between France and Nigeria at Estadio Nacional on June 30, 2014 in Brasilia, Brazil. (Photo by Jeff Gross/Getty Images)

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Advantage: Japan.

When Nigeria opens its men’s soccer tournament against the Japanese at 9 p.m. EDT Thursday, it will do so mere hours after some players arrived for the tournament.

MORE: Thursday daily preview

That’s because the players thought the plane was too small, a second delay in their trip to Rio.

Reports emerged Wednesday that a first plane was delayed because of problems in payment. The second plane, too tiny, according to the BBC:

“The players were uncomfortable with the size of the plane,” team media officer Timi Ebikagboro told BBC Sport.


“The [Nigerian] government stepped in,” he added. “The players have been assured of adequate medical care on the plane. It’s been challenging but most importantly we will be ready for the first game.”

Nigeria has struck gold before, in 1996, and boasts Chelsea midfielder Mikel John Obi (he recently corrected the long-organization of his name from John Obi Mikel) as well as Roma starlet Umar Sadiq and Sampdoria defender Amuzie Stanley.

Nigeria is in a tough Group B with Sweden, Japan, and Colombia.

Follow @NicholasMendola