By Sab Osuji:
Atlanta 1996 Olympic Games soccer gold medal winner with the Nigerian Dream Team , Kingsley Obiekwu, has urged Samson Siasia not to build his team around foreign-based players as he prepares for the Africa U-23 Cup of Nations slated for Senegal in November and December.
Obiekwu who is current assistant coach of FC Ifeanyiubah told Completesportsnigeria.com that instead, Siasia should look inwards and tap from the avalanche of players making waves in the domestic football league if he must make a positive impact at the tournament and earn a ticket for the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio, Brazil.
“I know Samson Siasia to be a very good coach. He also enjoys the assistance of quality back room staff and this gives me hope the U-23 national team under him is doing well and bound to excel in Senegal and Brazil later,” said Obiekwu.
“However, it is important for him not to build his team around foreign-based players for the AFCON and later the Olympic Games.
“This is because he could be disappointed in the end if and when the European clubs fail to release the players he hopes to prosecute the two assignments.
“You and I know that the two competitions are not in the FIFA wi dow in which case clubs are not under any obligation to release their players for the U-23 AFCON and the Olympic Games.
“During our time in 1996, we were privileged to have about three foreign-based players in the Dream Team aside from the three over-aged players.
“Things have changed so it is better he goes round the league clubs and select players who will form the nucleus of his team and if he later gets the opportunity of having a few foreign-based players available, that will be a bonus for him and the team.
“If he selects good players from the domestic league, I’m sure they will be fit enough because the season has been on and the players playing regularly, week in, week out.
“You will recall that the last U-23 team did not go to the London Olympic Games in 2012 because the team then was built around foreign-based players who later disappointed by not coming for the qualifying tournament in Morocco.”