Some people say simply showing up is half the battle in life. That has been a struggle for the Nigerian's men's soccer team when it comes to the Rio Olympics.
The team was scheduled to open its tournament at 9 p.m. EDT Thursday night in a match against Japan. But the team boarded a flight from Atlanta that would put them in the Brazilian city of Manaus with just a few hours to spare before the game was scheduled to kick off, according to USA Today. Delta Airlines, which is chartering the players to Brazil, confirmed to the paper that "all is well," while the local Manaus police department said it was looking into a police escort to get the team to its hotel or the stadium as quickly as possible. Tweets from the team's media director appeared to show the Nigerian team had finally landed in Brazil Thursday afternoon just hours before they're scheduled to play.
The squad was apparently delayed because a plane Wednesday was too small and players expressed concerns about the flight, the BBC reported.
"It has been an absolute shambles and the whole thing is a complete embarrassment," Nigerian soccer expert Colin Udoh told USA TODAY Sports. There were also reports that initial delays Tuesday stemmed from payment issues for the chartered flight.
"The money paid by the [sports] ministry for the charter flight did not hit airline's account on Tuesday so they refused to fly the team to Brazil," an anonymous source close to the Nigeria Football Federation (NFF) told the BBC. "It is a cumbersome exercise but they should have started the process much earlier, which NFF was pointing out. This issue has nothing to do with the NFF."
Bunmi Jinadu, founder of United Soccer Africa, denied that there were payment problems to ABC News, stating it was instead a lack of organization. He said the Nigerian team believed they could get tickets last minute as they do in their home country. When a last minute back up plan failed Wednesday because the plane was too small, they were left without a good option. Eventually Delta got them on their flight to Brazil free of charge, ABC News reported.