Siasia Begins Olympics Gold Medal Quest | Independent Newspapers Limited
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Siasia Begins Olympics Gold Medal Quest

Posted: Aug 4, 2016 at 3:00 am   /   by   /   comments (0)

Chibuike Chukwu

Lagos – Nigeria’s U-23 team will begin their Olympics gold medal quest in the in the early hours of Friday, August 5 with a tricky tie against Japan.
It will be recalled that the team’s coach, SamsoHe won silver in his first attempt at the Beijing Games.
The match comes up at Amazônia Arena by 2am Nigerian time. This will be a very testy match for the team, as the Blue Samurai dominated their Asia qualifying group, dispatching the likes of Macau, Vietnam and Malaysia with ease, scoring 10 goals and conceding none.
They continued their fine run in the final tournament, where they won all three group games to top Group B and progress to the quarter final. They, consequently, won the Asia U-23 championship, after dispatching Korea Republic 3-2, coming from two goals down in the process.
The Nigerian players will have their hands full in marking out Arsenal’s Takoma Asano and Hiroki Fujiharu.
The Nigerians will depend heavily on the experience of team captain, John Mikel Obi, who is making his debut at the Olympics. But then, the team looks depleted, following the withdrawal of Liverpool’s Taiwo Awoniyi and Saviour Godwin, among others.
Despite that, the U-23, apart from Mikel, still boasts of CD Farense of Portugal’s Oghenkaro Etebo, Haugesund of Norway’s William Troost-Ekong, Al-Arabi of Qatar’s Imo Ezekiel and AS Roma of Italy’s Sadiq Umar, among others.
Nigeria was the first African country to win Olympics gold medal in football after overcoming Argentina 3-2 in the final of Atlanta Games in 1996. Cameroon made it double for Africa at the Sydney Games in 2000 in Australia, beaten Spain 5-3 in the shootout after the final score stood at 2-2.
Speaking ahead of the match, former winner, Taribo West, assured that Nigeria would get it right tonight.
“The normal Nigerian spirit will see the team through, even though they might not have had the best of preparations. That was applicable during our own time (1996),” he said.