Japan’s Rio Olympic campaign got off to an embarrassing start on Thursday, losing 5-4 to a Nigerian team that only arrived in Brazil just hours before kickoff.
Oghenekaro Etebo fueled Nigeria with four goals, Sadiq Umar chipping in with one. Shinzo Koroki, Takumi Minamino, Takuma Asano and Musashi Suzuki netted for Japan, who now face Colombia here on Sunday.
The match got off to an explosive start, with four goals being scored inside the first 13 minutes.
Nigeria reached the scoreboard first in the sixth minute when Umar swept home a loose ball after Masatoshi Kushibiki kept out Imoh Ezekiel.
Japan struck back three minutes later through Koroki, who converted a penalty won by Minamino, the Salzburg midfielder taken down by Stanley Amuzie in the area.
But the Nigerians went right back up after 10 minutes, Etebo netting the first of his four on the night from a left-wing Abdullahi Shehu cross. Japan made it 2-2 two minutes afterward, Minamino slipping the ball through the outstretched legs of goalkeeper Emmanuel Daniel after being sent through by Ryota Oshima.
The game settled for the next half-hour before Etebo capitalized on a poor head clearance by center-half Naomichi Ueda in the 42nd minute, giving Nigeria a 3-2 halftime lead.
Japan were on the end of some misfortune six minutes into the second half, when Tsukasa Shiotani was whistled for a questionable penalty, which Etebo hit past Kushibiki to complete his hat-trick.
Etebo made it 5-2 for Nigeria in the 66th, capitalizing on the ill-advised decision of Kushibiki — who looked rattled all evening — to come way off his line.
New Arsenal signing Asano, who came on for Riki Harakawa at the 53rd-minute mark, scored after 70 minutes to chip away at the Nigerian advantage, and fellow substitute Suzuki found the net to move Japan within one, seconds before the final whistle.
In the other Group B affair, Sweden and Colombia fought to a 2-2 draw.
Teofilo Gutierrez opened the scoring for Colombia midway through the first half before Mikael Ishak leveled two minutes to the interval.
Astrit Ajdarevic struck shortly after the hour to push Sweden in front, but Dorlan Pabon converted a penalty for Colombia as the two sides shared the spoils.
Elsewhere on the first day of the men’s football, hosts Brazil got off to a less than ideal start with a 0-0 draw to 10-man South Africa in Group A. Iraq and Denmark played to another goalless draw in the same group.
South Korea humiliated Fiji 8-0 behind Ryu Seung Woo’s hat-trick in Group C, with defending champions Mexico drawing 2-2 to Germany.
In Group D, Portugal beat Argentina 2-0 while Honduras edged Algeria 3-2.