Head Coach of the U-23 National Team, Samson Siasia, has expressed confidence that his team will overcome their Congolese counterparts in Sunday’s African U-23 Championship final round, first leg qualifier at the Adokiye Amiesimaka Stadium, Port Harcourt on Sunday.
Siasia, who led the Under-23 team to runner-up position at the Men’s Football Tournament of the 2008 Olympics in Beijing, said this in a chat with the media at the Hotel Presidential abode of the team.
“I am very confident that Nigerians who will troop out en masse to see our match on Sunday will see one of the best displays ever by the Dream Team.
“As a team, my boys have always created chances, but our greatest problem has been to convert these chances to goals. We have been doing a lot of work in this critical area and if what I have seen in training of recent is anything to go by, then I can assure Nigerians that these boys will make them proud by scoring enough goals against the Congolese come Sunday.”
On the issue of the non-availability of most of the overseas-based professionals he invited for the game,Coach Siasia said neither himself nor the NFF has been taken unawares, as the match is only a qualifier for a continental competition and not on the FIFA calendar.
“For this reason, the clubs in Europe and elsewhere are not obliged to release these players, and that was why we have been concentrating efforts in building the team around home -based professionals.”
The team, however, has the services of former junior international striker Umar Aminu, who was able to convince his club to release him for the game.
On his word to the fans who are expected to troop into the stadium for the game, Coach Siasia said he is appealing to them to fully support the Dream Team from the first blast of the referee’s whistle till the final whistle.
The Congolese delegation was being expected in Port Harcourt on Friday evening.
Kenyan official, Anthony Ogwayo, will be the referee, with his compatriots Gilbert Cheruiyot, Joshua Achila and Andrew Juma Otieno as assistant referee 1, assistant referee 2 and reserve referee respectively.
The match commissioner is Alim Konate Aboubakar from Cameroon.
Meanwhile, Congo will be parading a high-powered 23-man squad including 11 foreign-based professionals for a final round of CAF Under-23 championship qualifier against Nigeria.
Among those in the selection by coach Claude Leroy are midfielders Philzgérarld Mbaka, Juvrel Loumingou, Ravy Tsouka as well as strikers Mavis Tchibota, Kevin Xavier, Brandon Koubemba and Ulrich Poutou.
The consistently successful 67-year-old Frenchman hopes to repeat at Under-23 level what he achieved at senior level and edge Congo closer to Rio de Janeiro and a first Olympics football appearance.
Congo eliminated the highly-rated Ghana to set up the clash with Nigeria’s Olympic team.