Nigeria’s sports minister apologised to the Olympic men’s soccer team and took responsibility Monday for the travel chaos that resulted in players arriving on the same day as their first game in Rio de Janeiro.
The team was delayed last week in Atlanta, with one official saying it was because they tried to buy plane tickets to Rio de Janeiro at the last minute and then found a charter plane was too small to carry the entire delegation.
They eventually all made it onto a chartered Delta Air Lines jet, arriving in the northern Brazilian city of Manaus about six hours before their first game at the Olympics against Japan on Thursday. Despite the issues, Nigeria won that game 5-4, and then beat Sweden 1-0 on Sunday to become the first team into the quarterfinals.
Sports minister Solomon Dalung took responsibility for what he called the “unfortunate incident” and said in a statement that he went into the team’s dressing room after the Sweden game to apologise to players.
“I want to assure you that we appreciate your efforts, and I want to say that it’s when a man faces challenges that his true ability is tested,” Dalung said. “I am sure we all have learnt our lessons and will take the lessons to heart going forward.”