Friday, August 5, 2016 1:54 pm
Coach Samson Siasia-led U-23 Dream Team VI have continued to receive applause for their brilliant performance that earned them victory over Japan in their first match of the men’s football event of the Rio 2016 Olympic Games.
Against all odds, the U-23 Eagles defeated Japan 5-4 at the Arena Amazonia in Manaus. Umar Sadiq and Oghenekaro Etebo were the stand out players in the defiant Nigerian side that outclassed their Japanese opponents despite arriving Manaus six hours before the kickoff.
The Nigerian Minister of Sports, Solomon Dalung through a press release from his Special Adviser (Media), Mrs. Nneka Nkem Anibeze, said: “The Dream Team VI not only showed resilience in the face of adversity but demonstrated patriotism, team work and the can do spirit that Nigerians are known for globally”.
He urged them to put aside all that happened in Atlanta, USA and focus on the challenges ahead. He also pledged Federal government’s backing for the team.
“The President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, President Muhammadu Buhari is proud of your achievement this morning and will continue to support you as you seek to relive the 1996 feat.”
Secretary General of Nigeria Football Federation, NFF, Dr. Mohammed Sanusi said the federation is glad with the victory. “We give glory to God for the outcome of this match. We also commend the boys for making maximum impact in the first match of the Rio Games. We are so excited. I want to say that the spirit in camp is very high with this scoreline. Nigerians should continue to pray for the success of the team in the Olympics,” Sanusi said.
Former Captain of the Super Eagles, Nwankwo Kanu said the players made Nigeria proud with the victory in Manaus, he said: “Congratulations, our Nigerian U-23 boys, well done, against all odds, you made us proud, keep going and you can do it.”
In his reaction to the victory on twitter, former assistant coach of the Eagles, Daniel Amokachi, who is currently handling JS Hercules of Oulu in Finland said: “Congrats to #SuperEagles for the win in #Rio2016. Goals goals goals! #NGRJPN.”
Etebo was the star of the night scoring four goals, while Umar seemed contended holding up play to allow his teammates punish the quite cautious Japanese. Captain Mikel John Obi did not score but was also on hand to inspire the team.
The nine-goal thriller dwarfed the equally goal friendly 2-2 draw between Nigeria’s other group opponents, Sweden and Colombia.
Siasia’s men can be rest assured the next opponents, Sweden will not underrate them but till then the 1996 gold medal winners will sit comfortably on top of Group B.
On 7 August, Nigeria will return to the Amazônia Arena Manaus to keep a date with Sweden in the second group stage.
Nigeria did not also win the match, but made history in the process. For the first time since 1972 Games, Nigeria became the first African team to score five goals plus in an Olympic men’s football match.