John Mikel Obi, Captain of National-U23 team, also called the Dream Team, has thanked fans for their support in spite of difficulties that had dogged the team.
Simply known as `Mikel’ by his followers in the English club, Chelsea, the mercurial player said he appreciated their support through the preparatory stages until the ongoing 2016 Olympic soccer event.
“I would like to say massive, massive thanks to the fans. Not just today (on Aug. 13), I think from the first day that we got here, from when we played Japan in our first game, the Brazilian fans have been behind us and supported us all the time.
“Even when we lost 0-2 to Colombia in the group stage, the fans supported us. It is one of the greatest feelings in football if you are giving the fans what they want and I am very happy for the team today (Saturday).
“My performance was good; the team’s performance was good. We came out and did exactly what the coach asked us to do and executed the game plan perfectly. We are very happy to be in the semi-final,” he said.
Mikel, who doubles as Team Nigeria captain adds: “I am not surprised. When we were in Atlanta, we knew we had a talented bunch of players.
“That’s why we just wanted to get to Brazil and kick-start our tournament.
“It was a bit frustrating coming down here, but while we were in Atlanta, we knew we had a good shot at getting to the final or winning.
“With the problems we had getting to this stage, it is just absolutely amazing and we just have to keep it going,” Mike said.
The team was stranded in Atlanta, without funds to support their upkeep. They were bailed by a philanthropist that undertook to underwrite their bills.
They even arrived in Manause, venue of their opening match, barely three hours to kick off after about eight hours flight jet-lagged.
They still went ahead to beat Japan, their opponents 5-4 in regulation time