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Olympic team records full house, as coach plots


The National Under-23 team’s camp was in full swing yesterday following the arrival of the last batch of Europe-based players to the squad’s Serob Hotel, Abuja, base. Coach Samson Siasia had given all the players up till yesterday to report to camp for the final preparations for the All Africa Games qualifier against Zambia this weekend.

Pleased with the response of the players to the camp order, Siasia and his crew yesterday said the team would now concentrate fully on plotting the strategy to down the Zambians in the first leg, second round game of the All Africa Games’ qualifier.

After yesterday’s morning training session, Siasia revealed that Atanda Sodiq of KF Apolonia Fier of Albania, a defender and Lucky Omeruo of Birkirkara FC of Malta, a midfielder, were the latest arrivals to his camp, adding that he now has a full compliment of players to work with.

According to Siasia, “Barring last minute injuries, I will safely say that my wards are ready to do Nigerians proud come Sunday when we battle to pick the first of our two targets. I know it will not be easy, but we intend to win well here so as to make the return leg a mere formality.

“From what I have seen of Sodiq and Lucky, both are in good shape, but as is my practice, they must fight for their jerseys as there are no automatic shirts for anybody in my team. As I always say my team is still work in progress.”

Siasia’s team beat Gabon 6-1 on aggregate to qualify for Sunday’s game against Zambia, who made it to this round of the qualifiers owing to Madagascar’s withdrawal from the race.

“My boys are ready for the Zambians. Our focus is on doing the job here in Abuja on Sunday so that we can then put our feet down in the return leg.

“Our match against Lobi Stars on Saturday helped a lot. We have been able to notice a few places that we need to continue to work on.”

The former Super Eagles’ handler is keen to get his boys into the All-Africa Games in Congo Brazzaville in July as well as the Men’s Football Tournament of the Brazil 2016 Olympic Games.

“Of course, we are ambitious. Our first target is the All-Africa Games, and then we start the qualification series for the CAF U-23 Championship where the qualifiers for the Olympic Games would emerge. We have a measure of what we must do to reach these targets.”

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