Tuesday, 16 August 2016

Rio Olympics: Pinnick backs Siasia to take U23 to final

NFF President Amaju Pinnick believes Coach Samson Siasia can come up with the formula to steer the Nigeria U23 past Germany in Wednesday’s Men’s Olympic Football Tournament semi final in Sao Paulo.

“As a Federation, we have always had confidence in Samson Siasia. We believed in him enough to appoint him to head the U23 crew and gave him all the support, including organizing several friendlies and invitational tournaments for the team over the past 18 months.

“When there was a sudden vacancy in the Super Eagles and we had two crucial matches at hand, we called on Samson Siasia. Personally, and as NFF President, I have confidence that Siasia can take the team to the final match on Saturday,” Pinnick said on arriving in Sao Pauloon Tuesday morning.

Despite several challenges, Siasia’s team has pleasantly surprised, edging Japan 5-4 only five hours after arriving in Brazil, going ahead to beat Sweden and then dispatching Denmark 2-0 in the quarter finals to set up a clash with Germany.

The Nigeria U23 team failed to qualify for the Men’s Olympic Football Tournament in London in 2012. On assumption of office, the Pinnick –led NFF restored Siasia, who had led the team to silver at the 2008 tournament in Beijing, back to the team. Siasia’s new team started life in January 2015, with two friendlies against the Tunisia Olympic Team in Tunis, losing the first 3-5 and winning the second 3-0.

The team then swept aside Gabon and Zambia to qualify for the All-Africa Games Brazzaville 2015, where it won the bronze. Siasia steered the team past a tough Congo Brazzaville squad to qualify for the Africa U23 Cup of Nations in Senegal where, despite some challenges, the team won the trophy alongside a number of individual accolades.

This year, the NFF sent Siasia’s team to Brazil for a friendly, with the team defeating the host nation of the Olympics 1-0. The African champions also took part in a Four –Nation Invitational Tournament in Suwon, Korea Republic where it played against Korea, Denmark and Honduras.

For its final preparation for the Olympics, the NFF got the U23 team to Atlanta, USA at no cost to the Government or the Federation. The team also stayed in the USA for 20 days at no cost to the Government or NFF.

On Wednesday, Siasia will aim to equal his record of playing in the Olympics final, when his troops file out against Germany at the Arena Corinthians in Sao Paulo.

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