Nigeria's Olympic soccer team is in a race against time to make it to their first match of the tournament after flight and organization problems kept them from taking their original flight to Brazil. Now Nigeria are hoping to land at 2 p.m. local time, five hours before their Olympics opener.
The Super Eagles were in the United States, where they held training camp ahead of The Games. They were supposed to leave for Manaus, Brazil, where their opening match is, aboard a chartered plane on Wednesday morning. The flight would have gotten them to Brazil in time for a training session on Wednesday night, more than 24 hours before their match against Japan. But that flight never took off.
The plane that was hired to take the team was reportedly too small for the team. There were also reports of payment mix-ups between Nigeria's soccer federation, the Nigerian sports ministry and the charter airline company. The exact reasoning for Nigeria's flight being canceled isn't exactly clear and an official from the sports ministry had been hinting at bigger problems between them, the soccer federation and the Nigeria Olympic Committe, but it's clear that they definitely missed their scheduled Wednesday departure.
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Breaking, trip cancelled, team heading back to hotel, plane too small, FG hires Delta Airline flight for team, flight is 7am tomorrow 1/2— Timi Ebikagboro (@ebikagboro) August 3, 2016
Nigeria ended up spending Wednesday night in Atlanta and getting on a chartered flight provided by Delta on Thursday morning. Now they are in the air, hoping to make it to Manaus by the expected 2 p.m. landing time.
Here it is, confirmed pic.twitter.com/bdIILH7cgl— Timi Ebikagboro (@ebikagboro) August 4, 2016
Once Nigeria land, they still have to get through the airport, customs, to the hotel and then to the stadium. Officials in Manaus are looking into police escorts or whatever else they can provide to ensure Nigeria get to their match on time, but trying to predict anything in this journey probably wouldn't be wise at this point.
Hopefully Nigeria make it on time. They'll already be jet lagged and coming off of a very long flight without much prep time so it would be great if nothing else went awry. Let them land, get to the stadium for a proper warmup and begin their Olympics as well as possible at this point.
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