The Head Coach of the Nigeria’s U-23 team, Samson Siasia has predicted that his team, the Dream Team VI, will be facing hosts, Brazil in the final of the men’s football event at the Rio Olympics.
The Olympic Gold is one trophy that is missing in the Brazil collection and winning it on home soil is a big target set by the South American country this time.
Siasia said he smiled and stood near Brazil’s coach, Dunga, after the draws at the Maracana Stadium in Rio de Janeiro. “I told myself this is the man I would be playing against in the Final Match,” he said.
Incidentally, since Nigeria’s Atlanta 1996 heroics, it is only Siasia that has taken Nigeria as far as the final in the Olympics.
In 2008, Siasia led his U-23 team to the final at the Beijing Olympics where the country lost narrowly to a Lionel Messi-inspired Argentine team.
Going to Rio, Siasia is hoping to go all the way and has thus read a riot act to players showing up late at the training camp already set up to start preparations for the Rio challenge in Abuja.
Siasia on Thursday said any of the players invited from the domestic scene who fails to report to camp by Monday, 25th April should not bother coming to camp, as the technical crew will work with only players available to them and are willing to play at the Olympics.
The coach said he did not want to repeat the mistake of the past when players who had been pencilled down by the coaching crew were not available when needed.
“I want to work with only the players on ground, and to get them to the shape I want,” Siasia reiterated.
On the issue of other teams in Nigeria’s Group B already announcing plans to include very experienced over-aged players, the U-23 gaffer said the technical crew and the players are not scared of any individual player, but would rather bother about the quality of opposition at the Olympics’ football event.
“Yes, I have read of plans by Sweden to include someone like Zlatan Ibramovich as one of their over –aged players for the Games. Good for them, but as far as we are concerned, there is nothing like fear. For us, we are trying to put up a team, and that will determine which players we are going to bring. We have played against players of stronger calibre than Zlatan. We have played against Lionel Messi and Di Maria and others.
“We would rather think of the fact that they have a strong team that will play against us, and not individual players. I don’t want to jump around and start mentioning names, and later if those players are not available, we would be disappointed. So, I have to be sure of what I am doing and when that time comes we will release the names.”
On the issue of players like John Mikel Obi and Ogenyi Onazi showing interest in playing for Nigeria at the Olympics, Siasia remarked: “I guess that because Mikel missed out the last time, he wants to make up for it. Not only that, the last couple of games he has played for the Super Eagles, he has been playing very well, and if he wants to be part of the team, of course he is welcome, but as I said we have to look at the positions we really, really need people. We are not going to select players because they play for the Super Eagles or because they are still under the age bracket. They have to compete with those players who actually qualified the team for the Olympics.”
Placed in Group B, Nigeria will be starting her campaign at the Rio Olympics against Japan on Thursday, August 4, 2016.
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