Olympic Eagles head coach Samson Siasia has promised to improve the team’s defence after their 2-0 defeat to Colombia in their final Group B game of the men’s football event of Rio 2016 in the early hours of Thursday.
The Nigeria U-23s face Denmark on Saturday in Salvador at 8pm Nigerian time for a place in the semi-finals.
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“Of course when you make too many changes, it won’t work the way you expected,” Siasia said at the post-match press conference, excusing the team’s uncoordinated play on the five changes he made to his previous XI.
“Going into the knockout stage, that’s a different ball game. If you lose, you go home, so all those mistakes we have been making mostly in the backline have to be corrected. We didn’t do a good job on the Colombian forwards. We really have to work harder on our defending.
“In the first half, we had a couple of good chances and Etebo had a very good one that he should have scored. But one good thing about him is that he always puts himself in good positions. He didn’t score today; that’s football. Hopefully, in the next game, we can convert our chances and defend better.”
On his assessment of the Colombia squad, Siasia stated: “Colombia has always been a good team, in spite of the challenges they faced before coming to the Olympics. All the teams at this tournament are good; you just have to take your chances when you have them. The Colombians took their chances against us and are now in the quarter –finals.”
On the injury to Oghenekaro Etebo, Siasia said he would have to wait for the verdict of the medical crew. On his part, Mikel John Obi said the team did not take the game lightly. “That’s football. We are professionals and could not have underrated the Colombians. We will work harder ahead of our next game.”
The Nigeria U-23 delegation departed Sao Paulo on Thursday morning for Salvador, where the team confronts Denmark at the Arena Fonte Nova on Saturday evening.
Meanwhile, the National Technical Director, Mr. Bitrus Bewarang, has arrived in Brazil to join the U-23 team as they continue their quest for Olympic gold.
Former Super Eagles’ assistant coach Bewarang left Lagos on Wednesday night, aboard a South African Airways flight, and then connected Sao Paulo from Johannesburg. He was due to be at the team’s camp in Salvador by Thursday evening.