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Beat Cote d’Ivoire for me, Siasia charges Dream Team

Posted by By Kunle SOlaja reporting from Beijing on 2008/08/15 | Views: 1826 |

Beat Cote d’Ivoire for me, Siasia charges Dream Team

Nigeria’s Head Coach, Samson Siasia, has requested his boys to hand him a worthy birthday present by delivering splendidly against Cote d’Ivoire’s Under-23 team at the Beijing Olympics Men’s football tournament quarterfinals tomorrow.

Nigeria’s Head Coach, Samson Siasia, has requested his boys to hand him a worthy birthday present by delivering splendidly against Cote d’Ivoire’s Under-23 team at the Beijing Olympics Men’s football tournament quarterfinals tomorrow.

The 1996 champions have a mouth –watering, all–African date with the Ivorians in the coastal city of Qinhuangdao on Saturday, after both finished strongly in their preliminaries on Wednesday.

The Dream Team closed out the United States 2–1 at the Workers Stadium in Beijing, while the Ivorians piped Australia in Tianjin – the city where Nigeria drew 0–0 with Netherlands and beat Japan 2–1 in their first two matches.

Analyses of all kinds have been going on round the world concerning this unique all –African fixture, but former Nigeria international, Siasia, rallied his troops for serious talks as they arrived in Qinhuangdao yesterday, after a two–hour ride on the train from Beijing.
“We had serious talks over some issues and I let out a piece of my mind to the guys. We have to know what we’re here for and approach our games with business –like attitude.

“I am not blaming anyone, but we have taken things a bit too easy in the previous games and I needed to let them know that we have got to the crunch and it gets much tougher from here.
“It’s my birthday today (Thursday) but I’m not looking forward to a better present from the boys than victory over the Ivorians on Saturday,” said Siasia.

Siasia, who turned 44 yesterday, ranks number three on Nigeria ’s all –time scoring list, behind the mercurial duo of Rashidi Yekini and Thompson Usiyen. He scored a marvellous goal against Argentina at the 1994 World Cup finals and won the African Cup of Nations gold, silver and bronze in a 15-year career with the national teams, the first four as a junior international.

“I played against the Ivorians many times during my days and I know how tough they always prove, even though we scored many famous victories over them. We are not going to take things easy on Saturday.”

Nigeria has never fallen to African opposition at the knock–out stage of a global tournament. In 1985, the Nigeria Under-16 team defeated their Guinean counterparts on penalties in the semi finals of the inaugural FIFA Cadet World Cup in China, and in 2001, the Golden Eaglets defeated their counterparts from Burkina Faso 3–1, also in the semi finals of the Under-17 World Cup. Last year, the Nigeria Under-20 team, Flying Eagles edged Zambia 2–1 in the Round of 16 at the FIFA Under-20 World Cup in Canada.

“Good memories are great going into a match like this but the lads have to realize that they stand to make their own history and work very hard on the day”, said Siasia, as his boys filed out for training at a school pitch as the main pitch was sodden and no team was allowed to train on it.
Cohesion is not likely to be a problem for Nigeria at this tournament as most of the lads have been together for four years. Ambrose Vanzekin, Apam Onyekachi, Ayodele Adeleye, Sani Kaita, Obinna Nsofor, Promise Isaac, Solomon Okoronkwo, Olubayo Adefemi, Monday James and Chinedu Obasi have been in the mainstream of the ‘Siasia Gang’ that won the African Youth Championship in Benin Republic early 2005, reached the FIFA Under-20 World Cup Final in Netherlands the following summer, and overcame Ghana and South Africa to pick the Olympic ticket in the African qualifying series.

Of the remaining defenders, Chibuzor Okonkwo and Efe Ambrose, midfielders Ebenezer Ajilore and Emmanuel Ekpo and striker Victor Anichebe (who scored in his only game against South Africa in Abuja) played key roles in qualifying, while midfielder Oladapo Olufemi and goalkeeper Ikechukwu Ezenwa dazzled at the FIFA Under-20 World Cup in Canada last year. The only over–age player and starter with the team is Peter Odemwingie, the Super Eagles’ forward.

Defenders Olubayo Adefemi and Apam Onyekachi will become available for selection again after serving out yellow card offences in the defeat of the Americans in Beijing on Wednesday.
Siasia was in the Nigeria team that lost 1–2 to Cote d’Ivoire in Abidjan on May 2, 1993 in a 1994 World Cup qualifier, but the Eagles defeated the Elephants 4–1 in Lagos and eventually piped the Ivorians to the World Cup ticket. He was also in the team that defeated the Elephants on penalties in the semi finals of the 1994 African Cup of Nations that Nigeria eventually won in Tunisia.

In 1983, Siasia was in the national Under-20 team, Flying Eagles that overcame Cote d’Ivoire 4–3 on aggregate to lift the first–ever Tessema Cup as the best junior team in Africa.
However, the Ivorians have had big laughs over Nigeria in the recent past, piping the Eagles 1–0 each in the semi finals of the 2006 African Nations Cup in Egypt and at the finals in Ghana earlier this year.
“This is surely pay–back time. That’s one of the reasons I had to talk to the guys. It’s important that we go all out and make our country proud at the end of the day”.

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Comments (3)

Okfold(Sobe, Edo, Nigeria)says...

I want the meaning of female owan name Ekeke (Edo state)

Toluwalase Samuel Olufemi(Ijebu, Ogun, Nigeria)says...

Authority belongs to God, once He decrees it is final and binding

Ikponmwosa Osamede(Edo, Nigeria)says...

Your meaning of Osamede is wrong. Osamede means God has given me a crown