U-23 Team Arrive without Fanfare


Femi Solaja

Nigeria’s bronze-winning U-23 football team, tagged Dream Team VI, arrived the Murtala Muhammed International Airport Monday night without any official from the Sports Ministry or the Nigeria Football Federation (NFF) welcoming them from Brazil.

However, there were some handful of passionate fans and family members of the footballers who were at the airport to welcome the athletes.

The Nigeria U-23 team were without key players like John Obi Mikel and William Troost-Ekong who flew directly back to their base in Europe.

The footballers won the nation’s only medal following their 3-2 victory over Honduras in the third-placed match as Rio 2016 came to a close on Sunday.

Twelve players and seven officials, including coach Samson Siasia, returned to the country while others had returned to their various clubs.

Team captain John Obi Mikel had returned to Chelsea, while Haugesund defender Troost-Ekong, AS Trencin midfielder Kingsley Madu, Osmanlıspor’s Aminu Umar and AS Roma’s Sadiq Umar had also returned to their various clubs.

Most of the fans at the airport were eager to see the footballers but were disappointed when they learnt that most of the foreign-based stars did not arrive with the team.

Members of the Dream Team VI that arrived at the airport on Monday included, Olufemi Ajayi Junior, Saliu Popoola, Okechukwu Azubuike, Stanley Amuzie, Ndifreke Udo, Muenfuh Sincere and Ezekiel Imoh.

The footballers and coach Siasia were lodged at the Sheraton Hotel, Ikeja and were expected to depart for their various destinations from Lagos yesterday as no official hosting plan has been announced for them by the NFF or the Ministry of Youth and Sports.