21 August 2016
Team Nigeria registered its presence on the Rio Olympics medals table following the Dream Team VI 3-2 defeat of Honduras in Saturday’s bronze medal match of the Games football event.
Braces from Sadiq Umar in the 34th and 60th minutes and another goal from Aminu Umar in the 54th minute were all the Dream Team needed to overcome Honduras.
Honduras made efforts to equalise the encounter after going down 3-0 within 60 minutes of the match but could not stop Nigeria from winning its consolatory medal at the Games.
Two defensive blunders from Nigerian defenders, however, enabled the opponents to reduce the score line but thanks to goalkeeper Emmanuel Daniel who denied them every chance of getting an equaliser.
The win ensured Nigeria won all the medals in the Olympics football event, having won gold in 1996, Silver at the Sydney 2000 edition and Saturday’s Rio bronze.
The victory also means that Coach Samson Siasia has won Olympic silver and bronze, having also led the Dream Team to the Sydney 2000.
Layi Adesiyan Osun State Director of Youths, Sports and Special Needs on praised Nigeria Dream Team VI for winning the only bronze medal for Nigeria at the 2016 Rio Olympics.
To get to the Bronze contest, the U-23 team defeated Japan 5-4 in their opening match, beat Sweden 1-0 in their second game to qualify for semi-final.
They, however, lost 0-2 to Columbia in their last stage group .They also lost 0-2 to Germany in their quarter-final match on Wednesday.
Adesiyan advised the Nigeria Football Federation (NFF) to maintain the U-23 team for grooming into the Super Eagles.
“We celebrate the Dream Team for the work well done. I was afraid when the Honduras scored their two goals within 20 minutes. Assuming they got the chance to equalise, only God knows what would have happened to lovers of football.
“They have been representing Nigeria well in any football event. Last year, they also won Bronze medal at the African Games in Congo. In December, they won the trophy for the U-23 African Championships in Senegal.
“They just won Bronze in Rio. We are proud of them .They would have won Silver or Gold if they had earlier received the necessary support from NFF and the sports ministry.
“These boys went far simply because of the love they have for football and the nation. May God grant them the strength to represent us well in future encounters,” he said.
In his reaction, NFF President, Amaju Pinnick, said in a statement that the victory of the U-23 was well deserved.
He blasted former goalkeeper Peterside Idah, for a mischievous post on his tweeter handle before the match, suggesting the Federation wanted to ‘hijack’ the donation to the team by Japanese plastic surgeon, Dr Katsuya Takasu.
“His message was a lie, an atrocious false alarm before an important match.
“I had exchanged correspondence with the Honourable Minister on the issue of the donation and we agreed that there was need for caution.
“The minister said to me that he read the donation in the newspapers and expressed serious concern. I also received a mail from the NFF Integrity Officer who expressed very serious concern with this kind of donation.
“I got in touch with the Ambassador of Nigeria to Brazil and the Honourable Minister to say that whatever had to be done should be done after the bronze medal match to avoid any distractions.
“The NFF may be having financial challenges, but I assure you nobody in the Federation is interested in that money.
“If we get the government’s go-ahead to collect the money, no official of the NFF will be involved even in the collection.
“The money will be received directly by the team,’’ he stated.
On the whole, Nigerians are happy that the team recorded the country’s name on the Games medals log else it would have been a shameful outing for Nigeria, fans said.
Christian Chukwu, a former coach of the Super Eagles, said that the team’s good performance gave them the desired victory against Hunduras.
“They exhibited the desire to win. I’m glad that they played as a team and played a coordinated game to win the bronze medal.
“They also listened to their handlers and that was why they were able to create good chances and scored goals.
“If only they played this way against the Germans in the semi-finals, we would have gone home with the silver medal at worse.
“But the game wasn’t that easy for the boys in the second half, they lost concentration, hence the goals against them.
“I am happy that we came and won at least a medal in the Olympics though it was a poor outing for Team Nigeria.
“I hope that in Japan 2020, we will put our acts together for a better outing,’’ Chukwu said.
Bright Omokara, a former Super Eagles player, commended the team for etching the country’s name on the medals table.
Omokara said the players had redeemed the image of the country through football at the Olympics by winning the bronze medal.
“It would have been a shame if we failed to win any medal in Brazil, but thanks to the Dream Team VI for registering the country on the Games’ medal log.
“In spite of all they went through before and during the Games, they were able to take the third position,’’ he said.
Falade Oyekan, board member of the Lagos State Football Association, lauded the players for their feat at the Olympics.
Oyekan said the players should not to be discouraged when called-up to represent the country due to the challenges they encountered before and during the competition.