Nigeria's stranded football team rushing to Brazil

    John Obi Mikel of Nigeria in action during the 2014 FIFA World Cup Brazil Round of 16. His team will rush to Brazil this week for the Olympics.

    Story highlights

    • With just hours to spare, the Nigerian Olympic football team will travel to make its match against Japan in Manaus
    • Delta is footing the bill for now, making sure the team gets to Arena de Amazonia for the evening kickoff

    (CNN)With just hours to spare, the Nigerian Olympic football team will travel to Brazil on Thursday to make its match against Japan in Manaus.

    Thanks to a tab temporarily picked up by Delta Air Lines for the charter flight, the stranded team is expected to land in Brazil at 2 p.m. local time. This gives the team just enough time to clear customs and stretch before kickoff at 9 p.m.
      Originally, the team was supposed to fly out July 29, manager Samson Siasia said. But an unpaid charter flight bill kept the team grounded in Atlanta, according to CNN Atlanta affiliate CBS 46.
      "[The Nigerian Olympic football team] were stranded at the airport and almost not going to make their match against Japan," said Reese McCranie, director of policy and communications for Hartsfield International Airport in Atlanta. The airport decided to work with Delta to make sure the team made its match on time, he said.
      Delta has not only footed the check for a private charter flight for the team from Atlanta to Manaus, but the airline also has put the team up in a hotel for the night in Atlanta.
      All this came down to a moment's notice, according to Delta.
      "This is a special occasion, not only because it's the Olymp