Nigeria’s Under-23 soccer side twice cheated death on trip to Gambia
Players and coaches of the national Under-23 side, the Dream Team, including officials of the Nigeria Football Federation (NFF), on Sunday, escaped death twice as the aircraft transporting them to The Gambia developed mechanical faults.
The Samson Siaisa-led Dream Team delegation, it was learnt, however arrived their destination for a 10 –day training programme ahead of the 2nd Africa U-23 Cup of Nations taking place in Senegal.
According to a story published on the official website of the NFF, the Arik Air aircraft conveying the team from Lagos lost a tyre on landing at the Kotoka International Airport, Accra. The airplane that was on ground in Accra was then deployed for the purpose of flying the team to The Gambia, but that also lost an engine on take –off and the pilot had to make a quick return.
Arik was said to have provided another aircraft that flew the delegation to The Gambia through Dakar.
Before departing the shores of the country on Sunday morning, the 2nd Vice President of the NFF who doubles as Chairman of the League Management Company, Shehu Dikko, charged the players and their officials to do the nation proud at the Africa U-23 Cup of Nations, where Africa’s flagbearers to the men’s football tournament of next year’s Olympics will emerge.
“Some of the challenges you guys are facing now is as a result of some changes in the financial regulations in the country, but in a little time, we will be able to resolve all that and your welfare and comfort will be priority,” said Dikko.
Coach Siasia reportedly wielded the big stick by dropping Kingsley Sokari, Nzube Anaezemba and Daniel Etor for what he termed indiscipline.
Meanwhile, Siasia has made it clear that the four players invited from the World Cup winning Golden Eaglets would have to prove themselves to make his team to the Africa U-23 Nations Cup in Senegal.
Chile 2015 MVP Kelechi Nwakali,Golden Boot winner Victor Osimhen including John Lazarus and Udochukwu Anumudu were handed invitations to the Dream Team.
Speaking on the qualities that made him to invite the youngsters, Siasia said: “I have been monitoring the progress of these boys while the team was being built by my brother, Emmanuel Amunike.
“Don’t forget we were in the same hotel and used the same pitch to train and I have been impressed with what I saw them do in Chile, so I think what I just did was rewarding them for a job well done.
“For me age is not a factor; if they can give me what I want, then they will be part of my team to Senegal But they must justify their invitation for no player in my team has automatic shirt.”
– Oladipo Okubanjo