Nigeria U-23 Eagles coach Samson Siasia is in Brazzaville, Congo for the 2015 All Africa Games with his team and he told completesportsnigeria.com’s SAB OSUJI (pictured with Siasia conducting this interview) during a training session where the teams needs to improve to reach their ultimate target…
Photo by GANIYU YUSUF In Brazzaville.
The Congo Brazzaville 2015 All Africa Games are about to start. What’s your experience since arriving here in Congo a couple of days ago?
Well it has been a difficult experience because there are a whole lot of things we expect to be in the rooms that are not there. For example at the Games Village where we’re camped, our rooms lack television sets, no internet connections and all of that. But all the same, it has been helping the boys to concentrate even though they have not been able to reach their families, say a word to them that at least they have arrived safely here in Congo Brazzaville.
Yes, it is not a grave situation but then it still has that psychological effect despite helping them concentrate for the task at hand. However I must say that the general environment is okay, the Games Village is well cut out but if we could have the opportunity of watching television in our rooms, that will be great. But all the same, we’re working really hard, getting ready for the first game on Wednesday. You can see we are training under the heat of the sun because we’re going to play at 2pm on Wednesday. So we are trying to see if we can acclimatize to play under the same weather condition we’ll play our first match on Wednesday. That’s what we have just done now. The pitch is so hot because it is synthetic, but hopefully we can get a grass pitch where we can train in the next couple of days.
So how ready are your boys for the battle of two West Africans against Senegal on Wednesday?
We are ready; we are doing our best in terms of preparation and the boys are responding well because they know the importance of the assignment we are here for. It’s going to be tough; Senegal is no pushover, no team is cheap and all the teams who qualified to be here want to win the gold medal so no one of them will be taken for granted.
No doubt this could be a difficult task for you and your team. Tell us, is this your first go or second at the All Africa Games?
This is my first time of playing in the All Africa Games. We did not qualify for the last time in Algeria, that was in 2007. But we made it to the Olympic Games in 2008. So this is my first time of playing in the All Africa Games and we are taking it very seriously. We just don’t wanna qualify only but we want to win the gold medal. That’s why we’re working very hard to perfect our drills towards goal which is the area we’re having problems and we are working really hard on that. If not for the restaurants closing early, we could have done more on that area of the team. ut all the same, we’ll come back tomorrow and see how far we can perfect our scoring abilities.
The U-23 Eagles appear to be missing a few players here in Congo, can you tell us the reason for this?
It’s just one player that is not here, not some of them. We are 19 players here in Congo, meaning that only one player is ‘missing’. Godwin Saviour refused to come, so we can manage with what we have here. That’s not a problem for us at all even though we would have loved to see him here because he was part of us right from the start.
So in effect, you have counted him out of the team completely?
That’s it, we don’t have anything to do with Saviour for now. We just have to focus on what we have right now.
Nigerians back home expect the team to bring the All Africa Games gold medal back home to Nigeria. Is this gold medal expectation not putting you and your team under pressure?
No, no, no. We as a team want the gold medal, that is why we are here. So Nigerians expecting us to bring the gold medal home to Nigeria is not at all putting any pressure on anyone. We have come this far, if nothing else, it will help us prepare for the Olympic Games, so we’ll go out there and try out our best to make sure we come back home with the gold medal.
What is your word for Nigerians back home?
I just want ask them to believe in us, pray hard and support us. We’ll make Nigerians proud.
How confident are you in the ability of the players you have in the team?
I have a lot of confidence in them, the confidence I had before we qualified for this All Africa Games and same confidence I have in them going into the Olympic Games.