Siasia, U-23 To Redeem Nigeria’s Rio Image | Independent Newspapers Limited
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Siasia, U-23 To Redeem Nigeria’s Rio Image

Posted: Aug 19, 2016 at 8:25 pm   /   by   /   comments (0)

The only possible opportunity for Nigeria to win a medal at the Rio Olympics is today and it is the bronze medal match between Nigeria and Honduras.
Nigeria, against all expectation crashed out of the gold medal race on Wednesday following the team’s 2-0 loss to Germany. Honduras on the other hand was mauled 6-0 by Brazil in the first semi-final.
But today, the hungriest of the teams will carry the day. As at Friday, the two countries have yet to win any medal, and that makes this match a must win for both teams.
Coach Samson Siasia, who expressed shock at the team’s performance against Germany, noted that it was better to win the bronze than nothing at all.
He said that focus will now be on the third place match. “We are going to face it with all seriousness because it is better to go home with a bronze than nothing at all. We will go for it.”
Siasia added that the team would put the loss behind them and fight for the bronze medal with the third place match.
“We still have something to play for,” Siasia continued. “We didn’t deserve to win against Germany with the way we played, so we should just forget about it and look forward to the next one and at least we will try to have the bronze medal going back home.”
“You’re better off having a bronze medal than not having anything at all. That’s the only way we can motivate them (players) and it’s going to be very, very tough. They wanted to go to Rio but you need to earn it to go there.”
Honduras will present a different challenge than Germany from a tactical perspective, but make no mistake, Los Catrachos will be hungry to respond positively after a disappointing outing in Rio de Janeiro against Brazil.
“We need to play [against them] the same way we’ve been playing,” Siasia said. “There were too many mistakes and against a German side like we came up against, if you don’t utilise your chances, it becomes a problem and that’s what actually happened. It was a learning experience. We’re all learning every day.”
Nigeria started Rio 2016 full of energy and promise with a thrilling 5-4 win over Japan and then a 1-0 victory against Sweden. They fell 2-0 to Colombia in their final group stage match but they were already guaranteed a first-place finish before that game. In their quarter-final against Denmark, Nigeria looked comfortable and shored up their defence to win 2-0 before coming up against Germany.
Captain Mikel John Obi also promised to fight for the bronze so as to console Nigerians.
“I wanted to win the gold medal,” said Mikel after the semi-final loss, “we did not play well today, the Germans played well.
“We are professionals, we can now claim third place and this is what we get. We want to give a medal to Nigeria.“
Teammate, William Troost-Ekong, said they will give everything to get all the honours in the third place match. “We have picked ourselves up again and will fight to bring home bronze on Saturday.”
Ogenyi Onazi also believes that the team will win the bronze medal game by beating Honduras in Belo Horizonte