Africa U-23 Championship: Absence of key players won’t affect Senegal game – Siasia

Samson Siasia

The Head Coach of the Nigeria U-23 team, Samson Siasia, has said that his team will cope in the next match despite the absence of captain Azubuike Okechukwu, who was suspended after receiving a second yellow card in the game against Algeria on Saturday.

The Dream Team VI would not also have Stanley Dimgba, but Siasia assured that there was no reason to panic over the absence of the players as he would still fashion out a style capable of making Nigeria go past hosts Senegal in Wednesday’s semi-final contest at the ongoing Africa U-23 Championships.

“We would have loved to have Azubuike because he is the captain and a big motivator, and you have to have a leader on the field. But he’s suspended, so we have to live with that. There is no need crying over spilt milk. In life, you always have to make adjustments in several areas. Azubuike’s absence will give another player the opportunity to prove himself.”

He added: “We are not going back home empty-handed; it’s no retreat, no surrender. We have to get ourselves ready for tomorrow’s game; it’s going to be a difficult one. It’s going to be eleven players against eleven, so we have our chances to qualify.”

Reacting on his rear guard that has conceded four goals in three games, Siasia said: “We have learnt our lessons. Two games in which the first half looked good and the last half didn’t. We made our corrections and you can see from how we played in the last game.”

Siasia added that for now, he is using FIFA U-17 World Cup sensation Victor Osimhen sparingly, so that the boy doesn’t get consumed by the occasion.

Wednesday’s clash will take place at the Stade Leopold Sedar Senghor, where Siasia scored Nigeria’s first goal in a 2-1 defeat of host Senegal in the opening match of the 1992 Africa Cup of Nations.

PREMIUM TIMES, as usual, will bring you live updates from the semi-final match.

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