U-23 Nations Cup: Our eyes on Olympic Ticket, Siasia assures Nigerians

Samson Siasia

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Samson Siasia: coach of Dream Team VI
Samson Siasia: coach of Dream Team VI

Taiwo Adelu

Coach of Nigeria’s U-23 Dream Team VI, Samson Siasia has declared that on no account will he and his team go for anything short of winning the Olympic ticket as they clash with Senegal in the semi final of the ongoing U-23 Africa Cup of Nations on Wednesday.

Nigeria set up a semi final tie against the hosts, Senegal after they came second in Group B at the end of the preliminary round on Saturday.

The match, which will decide one of the tickets for next year’s Rio Olympics, will kick off by 4pm Nigerian time at the Leopold Sedar Senghor Stadium in Dakar.

Siasia, who said he is not worried about the absence of three of his key players from the match, insisted that having reached this level of the competition, no team will stop his Dream Team from picking a ticket for the Olympics.

Both teams clashed at the men’s football event of the 11th All-Africa Games in Brazzaville in September, with Nigeria scoring a last–minute goal to tie the match 1-1.

Nigeria will be missing suspended skipper Azubuike Okechukwu due to card offences, while Stanley Dimgba and Taiwo Awoniyi have been ruled out of the crucial match due to injuries.

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“It is unfortunate that these players won’t play against Senegal, nevertheless, we are battle ready for the hosts.

“We know the Senegalese very well and I believe they won’t pose any problem for us. The ultimate aim now is the Olympic ticket. At this point we can’t afford to go down until we get the ticket,” Siasia said in an interview monitored on a Lagos-based radio Wednesday.

One of the players of the Dream Team VI, Nasarawa United midfielder, Bature Yaro, is also optimistic that Nigeria will get to the final of the Nations Cup at the expense of the host nation.

“The spirit is high in camp. We are ready for the Senegalese. In as much it will be eleven versus eleven players on the filed of play, I believe we will be victorious. I want prayers and support from Nigeria for us to succeed,” Yaro said.

Meanwhile, President of Nigeria Football Federation, NFF, Amaju Pinnick has charged the players to fire from all cylinders when they clash with hosts Senegal.

“It is not going to be easy playing against the host nation that is high on confidence, having won all their three group phase matches. Extra effort will be needed in all departments; hardwork and courage are critical virtues that the U-23 boys must take to heart on Wednesday.

“Our country is on a run of excellent results in international competitions. We are determined that run must continue and that is why the U-23 boys must defeat Senegal to assure of a place in Rio de Janeiro next year,” he said.

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