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.
Led by Samson Siasia, who also steered Nigeria’s last squad at the men’s football tournament of the Olympics (Beijing 2008) to runner –up spot, the African champions have self –belief they are good enough for gold in Rio de Janeiro in August. “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 last time I took the U-23 to the Olympics, we won silver. This time, we will aim for gold,” said Siasia.
Siasia has picked captain Azubuike Okechukwu, goalkeeper Emmanuel Daniel, defenders Stanley Amuzie and Segun Oduduwa, midfielders Usman Mohammed and Stanley Dimgba, forwards Taiwo Awoniyi and Saviour Godwin and 12 others for the invitional 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.
20 PLAYERS FOR SUWON TOURNAMENT 1. Emmanuel Daniel 2. Yusuf Mohammed 3. Emmanson Daniel 4. Sincere Seth 5. Ndifreke Effiong 6. Segun Oduduwa 7. Stanley Amuzie 8. Julius Emiloju 9. Erhun Obanor 10. Saturday Erimuya 11. Azubuike Okechukwu 12. Usman Mohammed 13. Stanley Dimgba 14. Sodiq Popoola 15. Saviour Godwin 16. Taiwo Awoniyi 17. Ubong Ekpai 18. Abdulrahman Taiwo 19. Nathan Oduwa 20. Tiongoli Tonbara