Tuesday, 24 November 2015

U23s ready for Senegal 2015

U23s ready for Senegal 2015
Nigeria’s Under-23 team, who are currently in camp in  Banjul, Gambia, are hitting the right notes as they prepare to hit Dakar for the Caf Africa Under-23 Cup of Nations.

Led by Samson Siasia, the Dream Team VI have gone about their business in a secluded area in Banjul, far away from the prying eyes of the Nigerian public.
Siasia and his wards have the arduous task of picking a ticket at the championship which is designed to select Africa’s representatives for the 2016 Rio Olympics.

Nigeria missed the last edition in London in 2012 and will look to make up for that with qualification for the event which Nigeria won in 1996 when a Nwankwo Kanu-inspired side led the team to beat Brazil in the semifinals and then Argentina in the final.

Siasia was in charge of the 2008 Under-23 team to the Beijing Olympics that lost in the final to an Argentina side that had the likes of Angel Di Maria and Lionel Messi.

The team had a chance to go up against the best Under-23 sides on the continent at the All Africa Games in Congo in September. Siasia and his wards picked up the bronze medal at that games and will look forward to another fine finish on the podium at Senegal 2015.

Twenty-four players are currently in camp in Banjul, as Tunisia-based in-form forward Junior Ajayi has joined up with the team.

Success Isaac from Granada, midfielder Azubuike Okechukwu and Taiwo Awoniyi are the foreign-based players still expected in camp for the tournament that starts on November 28. There is a cloud surrounding the availability of Godwin Saviour, Kelechi Iheanacho and Aminu Umar for the tournament while Barcelona’s Elohor Ekpolo is out due to passport issues.

The Dream Team VI defeated a top-flight Gambian side 3-0 in their first test game in Banjul last week. Warri Wolves striker Oghenekaro Etebo scored a hat-trick in the game, the first in a three-game tour before the team departed for Morocco.

The Gambia’s Under-20 side held the Dream Team to a 1-1 draw on Monday at Brikama as the Nigerian team continue their build-up to the Under-23 tournament.

Nigeria will play in Group B of the tournament and will face Mali, Algeria and Egypt for a place in the semifinals.

The tournament runs from November 28 through to December 12 in the Senegalese cities of Dakar and M’bour.

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