Nigeria Football Federation President Amaju Pinnick has charged the U-23 Eagles to finish in the top three of the Africa U-23 Cup of Nations starting in Senegal on Saturday so as to claim a ticket to the Rio 2016 Olympics.
Nigeria failed to qualify for the London Olympics in 2012, four years after current coach Samson Siasia led the team to silver at the Beijing 2008 Games.
Pinnick is backing the present team to get the country back to the Games.
“Presently, we are on a roll of good results and we are determined that those must continue,” Pinnick told thenff.com.
“It’s been an exciting past few months during which we have won U-17 World Cup, qualified for the U-20 Women’s World Cup and reached the group stage of the African series for the 2018 FIFA World Cup.
“The NFF is backing Samson Siasia because he is always keen to succeed. He has brought new, exciting faces to the group and there is confidence all around again. The ticket to the Olympics is non-negotiable.”
The U-23 Eagles play their first match of the campaign against Mali at the Caroline Faye Stadium in Mbour on Sunday evening.
Pinnick insists that Senegal will again prove to be a happy hunting ground for Nigerian football after the Flying Eagles won the Africa U-20 Cup of Nations there eight months ago.
He added: “We won the U-20 Cup of Nations in Senegal at the beginning of the year; now, we are back there for the Olympics ticket and the trophy. We will achieve both, because Samson Siasia has put together a crack squad and he has the support of the NFF all the way.”
The Nigeria U-23 squad will also play Egypt and Algeria in the group phase. Only the top three finishers will qualify to represent Africa at the men’s football tournament of next year’s Olympics in Rio de Janeiro, taking place 3rd -20th August, 2016.