From Duro Ikhazuagbe in Rio
Nigeria’s Under-23 team coach, Samson Siasia, became very emotional on Saturday night after Nigeria defeated Denmark 2-0 to book their semi final clash with Germany in Sao Paolo on Wednesday.
“We are here to win. You cannot come this far, go through what we went though, then just give up. We will do everything we can to make sure we will get the gold medal,” remarked the Nigerian Under-23 football team coach in apparent reference to the scandalous manner he and the players got stranded in Atlanta USA after their pre-tournament training tour.
Now, with one foot in the medal zone, Siasia’s dream of another Olympic medal is about to become reality. But first, he wants to savour the victory over the Danes.
“I just want to say thanks to the players. Yesterday, (Friday) we were worried about the defence but they came out and played very well. We played against a good team in Denmark. The guys have to be applauded for the performance and scoring two goals,” stressed Siasia.
Captain of the Nigerian Under-23, John Mikel Obi, got the curtain raiser with Aminu Umar scoring the second to kill the game for Denmark and a ticket to the semi final at the Corinthians Arena in Sao Paolo on Wednesday evening.
Already, every Nigerian here is looking ahead of a possible clash with Brazil in the final if Dream Team VI is able to surmount the obstacle posed by the Germans. But Siasia is not one of them.
“We saw what they did to the Danish team (Brazil won 4-0 in the group stage). They are a good side. They did not start well, but the most important thing is how you end.
“We still have one game (against Germany) to go so we are not worrying about Brazil now.
“If we get to the final together then we will see what we can do. I am sure we will play a good game,” concludes Siasia who is aiming to go beyond the silver he won at the Beijing Games in 2008 when Lionel Messi inspired Argentina to snatch the gold.
Mikel is however thanking Brazilian fans for the good run of the Dream Team at the Games.
While also speaking at the post match in Salvador, Mikel said: “I would like to say a massive, massive thanks to the fans. Not just today, I think from the first day that we got here, from when we played Japan in the first game. The Brazilian fans have been behind us and supported us all the time.
“Even when we were losing 2-0 to Colombia in the group, the fans were supporting us. It is one of the greatest feelings in football if you are giving the fans what they want and I am very happy for the team today.”
On his goal, Mikel said: “My performance was good, the team performance was good. We came out and did exactly what the coach asked us to do and executed the game plan perfectly. We are very happy to be in the semifinal.”
“I am not surprised. When we were in Atlanta we knew the team we had and we had a talented bunch of players. That’s why we just wanted to get to Brazil and kick-start our tournament.
He was however evasive when asked if Nigeria was going all the way to the gold medal.