Siasia targets gold at RIO Olympics

Muhammad Tahir Hassan, Abuja

The coach of the Nigeria U23 squad Samson Siasia has stated that his goal at the 2016 Rio Olympics is to clinch the gold medal of the men’s football event.

The former Super Eagles attacker won the silver medal when he led the team in the Beijing 2008 games losing out to Argentina.

According to him, “The last time I took the U-23 to the Olympics, we won silver. This time, we will aim for gold,”.

 He further stated that “Not many people gave us a chance going to the African finals in Senegal. We love it that way because so much focus is on the other teams and we are able to concentrate on devising our own strategies.”

The Nigeria U-23 squad will on Monday begin its final preparations for the men’s football tournament of this year’s Olympics, when the delegation departs Nigeria for the Suwon Invitational Tournament.

Siasia has picked Captain Azubuike Okechukwu, goalkeeper Emmanuel Daniel, defenders Stanley Amuzie, midfielders Usman Mohammed and Stanley Dimgba, forwards Taiwo Awoniyi and Saviour Godwin and 12 others for the invitational tournament. The list is made up of 12 home –based and eight overseas –based professionals.

After the tournament in Korea, the team will train in Manchester, United Kingdom before heading to Atlanta, United States of America, from where it will travel to Rio de Janeiro for the Olympics.

Atlanta, USA was the setting for Nigeria’s triumph at the men’s football tournament of the Olympics in 1996 – a first for an African country.

Nigeria will play in Group B of the tournament against Sweden, Colombia and Japan. Hosts Brazil, who lost 0-1 to Nigeria in a friendly in Brazil two months ago, head Group A which also has South Africa, Iraq and Denmark. Germany, Mexico, Korea Republic and Fiji make up Group C while Argentina, Honduras, Algeria and Portugal are in Group D.