NIGERIA’S Under-23 team will start their quest for the gold medal in the football event of the All Africa Games taking place in Congo today when they tackle Ghana.
Nigeria have not had much success in the competition of late and one will remember Cairo ‘91 when Emmanuel Amuneke led an exciting band of footballers to clinch the bronze.
Samson Siasia and his wards will have heir hands full when they take on reigning champions, Ghana, in their first game at the AAG.
Ghana played out a goalless draw with Senegal in the first game of the group while Nigeria did not feature on the first day because their opponents, Egypt, withdrew from the competition.
Led by Azubuike Okechukwu, Siasia has a team capable of winning the gold medal, but getting on the podium will not be a walk in the park and they have to start on a good note against a strong Ghana side.
The team will miss the services of AC Madeira’s Shehu Abdullahi and Godwin Savior of KVV Oostende who were not released by their clubs, while Taiwo Awoniyi has been excused to settle down at his new employers, FSC Frankfurt 1899, where he is on loan from Liverpool FC.
Usman Mohammed and Chima Akas will not be in Brazzaville as they are with the Super Eagles that played Niger Republic yesterday as left back Stanley Amuzie misses out due to injury.
Siasia told supersport.com before the team’s departed for the AAG that he has players who can do the nation proud despite missing several key players.
“We have a team capable of winning the gold medal for Nigeria,” Siasia said.
Siasia will hope the likes of Junior Ajayi, Oghenekaro Etebo and Aminu Umar from Turkish side Osmanlispor will propel the team moving forward while Seun Oduduwa and Seth Sincere will hold the fort at the back.
The former Super Eagles coach has a good record against Ghana at this level as he led the under-23’s in 2007 to defeat Ghana 3-2 on aggregate to qualify for the Beijing Olympics in 2008. supersport.com