Head Coach of the Nigeria U23 Team, Samson Siasia, believes his boys can still qualify for the Rio 2016 Olympic Games irrespective of their wobbly and fumble in their first two games against Mali and Egypt in the ongoing African Cup of Nations U23 tournament in Senegal.
The tournament is designed to pick three African representatives at the 2016 Rio Olympic Games.
Coach Siasia has blamed the sloppy display by the players on fatigue as responsible for his side’s collapse in the second halves of their first two games at the ongoing 2015 U23 AFCON.
Nigeria conceded two-second half goals in the 3-2 win over Mali in their first game of the competition after taking a 3-0 half time lead.
Also, the sloppy second half performance saw the Dream Team VI surrender a 2-0 first half lead to draw 2-2 with Egypt in their second game of the tournament.
Siasia told Nigerian Saturday Pilot Sports, “I think we get tired in the second halves of games. That is what it is not supposed to be. If you are tired, you make many mistakes. You do not concentrate anymore when you are tired and we need to fix it. Two games, against Mali and Egypt the same thing. We almost lost the first game against Mali.
“We need to see how we can fix that problem because if it continues like this it’s not going to be funny. If it continues, I do not think we will go to the Olympics.”
The former Super Eagles striker said the team must improve ahead of their decisive third preliminary stage game against Algeria today. We have four points so it is going to be a difficult game. We have to be very careful. Either we win or we try to get the draw against the Algerians.
“Then, Nigeria and Algeria can go to the next round. Very good sides, the Algerian and Egyptian teams. From the left and right attacking, defending and we could not defend in the last couple of minutes. It is a big problem.”
Speaking ahead of today’s make or mar encounter, Captain of the Nigerian said Azubuike Okechukwu assured that the team remains calm despite their Wednesday’s disappointing draw against Egypt.
The 18-year-old Yeni Mataylspor player said it is unsatisfactory the 2-2 draw against the young Pharaohs of Egypt, even as he maintained that the Dream Team VI are not frightened to play Algeria and promised that the team will do their best to win or at least pull a draw against Algeria today.
The Dream Team need a win as loss to Algeria could see them get eliminated from the race to the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro.
Okechukwu said, “We know the Algerians. We are not afraid of them. We respect them but we are not afraid of them. We will play our game, try to win and I am sure we will come out with a good result.”
Algeria currently leads Group B with four points, same as Nigeria but on goal difference.
Incidentally, Algeria were also the Dream Team’s final group phase opponents at the inaugural Africa U-23 Cup of Nations in Morocco four years ago. Nigeria won 4-1, but went out of the tournament having lost her first two matches to Morocco and Senegal.