For the second consecutive time, Nigeria will be missing from next year’s men’s football event of the Olympic Games in Paris following the defeat of the country’s U23 Dream Team by Guinea yesterday.
After a dismal first leg goalless draw in Abuja last Wednesday, the Guineans yesterday defeated Salisu Yusuf’s Dream Team 2-0 to book a place in the CAF U23 Nations Cup Tournament scheduled to hold later in May in Morocco.
Nigeria, Africa’s first winner of the men’s football gold at Atlanta ‘96 and winner of the silver and bronze medals at Beijing 2008 and Rio 2016 respectively, failed to go past the challenge posed by their fellow West Africans.
Signs of the Dream Team failing to reach the CAF U23 tournament were clearly on the wall following the manner of foreign-based players invited by the technical crew to the squad.
Instead of combing the globe for quality players, the Yusuf led coaching crew settled for half-baked players hardly better than those strutting their skills in the domestic league.
The fact that these players had ample time between the first leg and the reverse fixture yesterday to train and blend into a potent force, counts little by the poor quality of play offered by the Olympic Eagles in Morocco yesterday.
Both teams battled on the turf of the Prince Heritier Moulay Al Hassan for one hour, before Guinea took the lead, and then added a second goal 15 minutes later to the consternation of the Nigeria squad and their head coach Yusuf.
Defeat was a bitter pill to swallow, for a team that emerged champions of the Africa U23 Cup of Nations in Senegal in 2015 and reached the finals staged in Egypt four years ago.
Eswatini 0-1 C’Verde
Togo 1-1 B’Faso
Namibia 2-1 Cameroon
Malawi 0-4 Egypt
Tanzania 0-1 Uganda
Gambia 1-0 Mali
Comoros 0-2 Ivory Coast
Mauritania 0-1 DR Congo
Botswana 2-3 E’Guinea
Libya 0-1 Tunisia
Liberia 1-2 S’Africa
Mo’bique 0-1 Senegal
Georgia 1-1 Norway
Scotland 2-0 Spain
Turkiye 0-2 Croatia
Wales 1-0 Latvia