Samson Siasia : We Were Abandoned In Atlanta Not Celebrated

Ex Olympic Eagles coach, Samson Siasia reminisces on one of his trying times as a coach if the Nigeria’s U-23 team.

Samson Siasia was the coach of the Olympic Eagles (U-23) at the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio, Brazil. And helped Nigeria win its first ever Bronze medal in an Olympic.

Also read: Hopes For Olympic Eagles Douse Tension

In a publication by The PUNCH, Siasia had spoken about how his team was abandoned in America by the Nigeria Football Federation, NFF.

According to Siasia, the team was left poorly unattended to during their camping in America. And had to arrive the venue of their first match hours before the kick-off.

Samson Siasia opens up on his last Olympics with Eagles

“We were abandoned ahead of our opener (against Japan), but we came into Rio on the same day, played Japan the same day, and won our opener the same day by 4-3,” he was quoted the Nigerian newspaper.

“The Japanese billionaire, Dr. Katsuya Takasu was so amazed and wanted to see the coach of the team and handed me a cheque for $200,000”.

As per what Siasia said, the Japanese plastic surgeon also appreciated the team for their resilience and quality.

“He also appreciated the team as a whole.”

The 56-year-old also decried the poor treatment the players received upon arrival in Nigeria. According to him, the team despite their wonderful exploits wasn’t welcomed at the airport.

Also read: Olympic Eagles Protest Against Guinea U-23 Dismissed By CAF

“We were not received at the airport and no one appreciated us or talked about it. It’s shameful and not fair,” he continued.

“We have to first celebrate the medals won before looking forward to winning another. So that the younger ones who see athletes being appreciated will look forward to winning for Nigeria. And that is how it should be.

“My bronze medal is still in my house in the United States of America. But it’s so sad that Nigeria does not appreciate those who win laurels at the Olympics.”

According to the former Super Eagles gaffer, “it must not be gold always.” And that “once an athlete win either silver or bronze, they ought to be appreciated.

Stressing further, he revealed that his team’s “bronze at the Rio Olympics was the only medal Nigeria won at that Olympics, but it was not celebrated.”

In a related revelation to what Mr Samson Siasia said, former Nigeria international John Obi Mikel revealed coughing out a huge sum of money from his pocket. And this was to ensure the players at the Olympics had a better treatment.

John Obi Mikel talks about Olympics experience

“I think if we talk about the money that I put into the team I think it was more than [£30,000],” Mikel told Goal.

John Obi Mikel and coach Samson Siasia at the Olympics in Rio
John Obi Mikel, Dr Katsuya and Samson Siasia

“But we just had to do it.”

“I said to myself, ‘I won’t let this happen. If I can help, I’ll try to help’.”

According to Mikel “sometimes there was no food, sometimes there was no pitch to train on, there was no bus to go to the training ground.”

And all that was what made him So all “and the coach had to figure out, and get money together.”

“I came to the camp. I sat down with the boys in Atlanta and I could see the frustration, the pain and the anger. Their aim was to play in the Olympics, their goal was to play in the Olympics,” he added.

This is not the first time Nigerian players on international duties would complain about lack of support.

Recently, Super Falcons coach, Randy Waldrum called out the NFF, for lack of support, blackmail and misappropriation of funds.

And the NFF through its Director of Communications Ademola Olajire described Waldrum as a ‘Loudmouth’ and worst coach of the national team.

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