Group B saw Colombia, Sweden, Nigeria and last time’s bronze medalists Japan face off in a tight group. Japan will be hoping to place in a medal position by the end of the tournament, Sweden will also want to stake a claim in Rio, having won the U21 European Championship last year.
Colombia and Sweden were the first to match-up against each other, and the game opened quite defensively whilst both sides attempted to get a feel of each other. Colombia took their chances, having over a 50 per cent shots to shots on target ratio. Ishak, for Sweden, sparked the team into life by scoring a 25-yard top right effort. Sweden won the U21 European Championships off of momentum, from qualifying in the final minute against France all the way through the tournament, they grew in stature and they tapped into this momentum again here, using the late goal in the first half from Ishak to push Colombia back and take the lead. Unfortunately, a handball in the area pegged Sweden back as Pabon scored from the spot. Overall this game had very encouraging signs for both teams going forward for the next two tough games.
Elsewhere, Nigeria only touched down in Brazil a couple of hours before their game against Japan. This was certainly one of the more exciting fixtures of the opening day. Oghenkaro Etebo scored four goals for Nigeria and single-handedly ran the game, scoring a half volley for his first goal and taking his chances from both the spot and from Japan’s frailties. Japan were good going forward but the defending really let them down. Nigeria’s defensive frailties are also a concern and both teams will have to be better when against the attacking prowess of Sweden and Colombia.