3 heroes of Siasia’s Dream Team VI

Nigeria's U-23 national team defeats Algeria 2-1 to emerge African Champions

Samson Siasia is the first Nigerian coach to win the CAF U-23 Nations Cup after he led his team to beat Algeria 2-1 in the final and claim the title.

The team also secured the 2016 Olympic Games ticket, which they booked by their 1-0 win over hosts Senegal in the semi-final.

If the coach is doling out money (with the belief that his owed salaries have been paid), there are three players he must give extra to.

Emmanuel Shinkut Daniel

There are people who have predicted that this 21-year-old (he will be 22 on December 17) was destined for the top and they have been proven right with his performances for the Dream Team in Senegal. The Enugu Rangers goalkeeper was the difference between Nigeria contesting the third place match and the final going into extra time. If some people had thought that his penalty save against Senegal in the semi-final was a fluke, he repeated the heroics against Algeria in the final. It would bode well for the Sunday Oliseh-led technical crew of the Super Eagles that he be included in the list of players for the CHAN championship in January.

Azubuike Godson Okechukwu

He missed the semi-final win because of a suspension but he was back for the final with a vengeance. The tempo at which the team started against Algeria was the best that the team had in the entire tournament and he was the dictator-in-chief of the proceedings. It has been a long time when a Nigerian team had a player that dictated play from deep like Okechukwu did. If he continues to improve his decision making, then he might not stay long in Turkey’s second tier with Yeni Malatyaspor.

Oghenekaro Peter Etebo

Like the biblical Peter, this was the player that Siasia built this team on and this was the way it was supposed to be – a tournament where finally, Etebo stepped up to the plate.

The Warri Wolves midfielder, who is not included in the CHAN preliminary squad, showed in the final what a really good player he is. Everything was on show – power, pace, passion and a killer instinct. Of the eight goals scored by the team, Etebo scored five [four from the penalty spot]. His second goal in the final could mean that Wolves may be about to lose their most influential playmaker as European scouts would have taken note.

This is not taking anything away from the other players as they played their part but the three were very important for the triumph in Senegal.

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