Rio Olympics: Win over Japan, a miracle —Siasia

Nigeria’s Usman Mohammed competes for the ball with Japan’s Shoya Nakajima during their group B game at the Arena Amazonia, Manaus, Brazil. PHOTO: GETTY IMAGES.

•… As Buhari hails Dream Team

Nigeria U-23 team’s head coach, Samson Siasia has hailed the performance of his players that saw them beat Japan 5-4 in their opening game of the football event of the Rio Olympics barely five hours after arriving in Manaus as a miracle.

He made the remarks at the post match press conference at the Amazonia Stadium, Manaus.

“I just can’t describe what happened today. My boys defied science to win this game; what gave us this game was the mental toughness of the boys. For a team not to train for two days and put up this type of performance is a miracle. You know that when players are tired they tend to lose focus. That is why we conceded four goals. For now, all I can say is I just want to go and savour this victory with my players,” he said.

On his plan for the next game, coach Siasia said: “We just won a game, we can’t and won’t allow this victory get into our heads. Our target here is to win the gold and this is just the first step of us achieving that aim. No two games are the same, for me this hurdle is over, when I wake up tomorrow I will then think of my next game.”

Describing the Japanese side as a good side, the former Super Eagles coach added: “The team we defeated is a good side; I respect them for pushing my boys to the limit.”

Siasia refused to speak on the issues that caused him and the team to arrive in Manaus hours before the game, saying the team had put that behind it and was grateful to Delta Airlines for coming to the rescue of the team when they did.

Describing the nine-goal session as a spectacle, the man who coached Nigeria to win the silver at the 2008 Beijing Olympics said: “I knew that towards the end of the game my boys were tired and barely managed to hang on. I will not blame any one of them for the goals we conceded. We have put this match behind us. I hope my team sustains this great form and even steps up a gear in our subsequent matches.”

Meanwhile, President Muhammadu Buhari has hailed the Nigerian Olympic football team, Dream Team VI, for their 5-4 victory over the Samurai Blues of Japan,

According to a statement issued in Abuja on Friday by the Senior Special Assistant to the president on media and publicity, Garba Shehu, he expressed optimism that the victory would ginger the entire Team Nigeria to strive for excellence at Rio 2016.

Buhari hoped that “the victory of Nigeria’s U-23 football team, the ‘Dream Team Six’ over their Japanese opponents in the early hours of this day will serve as an inspiration to the entire contingent of the grand show Nigerians expect from our athletes.

“On behalf of the government and people of our great country, I wish to express my support to our athletes who have arrived in Rio for the 2016 Olympic Games.

“I am particularly delighted by the outcome of the football match early this morning in which our football team defeated their Japanese counterparts.

“The sweetness of the victory comes from the fact that it came against all odds.  Our team overcame several challenges to put up a sterling performance. This is a good beginning.”

Buhari also praised the resilience, hardwork and patriotism that the athletes have put into their preparations.

He added: “I am already aware that you have made personal sacrifices in your journey to the Olympic Games. The motivation comes from strong discipline and the love of the nation.

“As you embark on the search for honours for the nation, I seize this opportunity to assure our Olympians that you have my support and those of all Nigerians.

“Go! Win and return with laurels, I wish you the best.”