Despite the no love lost relationship between Sports Minister, Solomon Dalung and bronze-wining U-23 Olympic football coach, Samson Siasia, the coach has said that he was yet to come to terms with the tantrums of the Minister before the Games that just ended in Rio.
“The whole thing surprised me”, Siasia said in Johannesburg while on a stopover to connect the final leg of the flight from São Paulo to Johannesburg and to Lagos. Siasia drew the ire of the Minister when he complained about the hardship his team faced while preparing for the Olympics. The Minister denied knowledge of the team’s whereabouts but also ridiculed the coaches that they could be engaged in human trafficking.
The drama did not stop there as it snowballed into an international embarrassment as the team could not be airlifted to Rio until a few hours to its opening game against Japan. “As we speak, I don’t know what I have done to offend the Minister. The whole thing is surprising”, Sia One, as he is fondly called said. The coach however added that it was funny that when he met the Minister one on one after a string of good results, the man did not recognize him. “It’s funny. When he came, he shook hands with us and after shaking the players, he asked where is the coach?. Everybody started laughing. We shook hands again and hugged”, Siasia said.
He noted that his team could have done better if the environment before the Games was conducive for them. “The environment before the Games was not good but we resolved to weather the storm. The players gave their best. Without necessarily singling out players, Mikel was outstanding. He not only played well, he also motivated the squad with his leadership qualities. Also, Injury did not allow us to use some other good players. Anyway, we’re grateful to win something for Nigerians who showed massive support to us”.
With the bronze medal, Nigeria has now won gold, silver and bronze from the Men’s football event of the Olympics. They won gold in 1996 and picked silver eight years ago, also under Samson Siasia. said in Johannesburg while on a stopover to connect the final leg of the flight from São Paulo to Johannesburg and to Lagos.