Abuja – The National Under-23 Coach, Samson Siasia, said on Tuesday that he was yet to assemble a formidable team for the forthcoming CAF U-23 Championship in Senegal.
The tournament scheduled to take place in Senegal from Nov. 28 to Dec. 12 will serve as qualifiers for the teams for 2016 Olympics in Brazil.
Nigeria, Senegal, Algeria, Tunisia, South Africa, Zambia, Mali and Egypt will be drawn in two groups of four teams each with the top three teams advancing to the Rio Olympics.
Siasia told newsmen at the Nigeria Football Federation (NFF) secretariat in Abuja that his team was not ready for the championship and attributed the development to refusal of clubs in the country to release players invited for the competition.
According to him, only 10 players out of 30 invited have reported to camp as at today.
“Preparation is not going well because most of the invited players are not here; I know they want the players to win the league but we need them to come.
“The players can come and go back at the weekend and play for their teams, just like we have done in the past.
“I am appealing on behalf of the team for the clubs to release these players so that we can start preparation on time; I am not impressed at all because this month will soon end,’’ he said.
Siasia pointed out that late preparation could jeopardize the country’s chance of qualifying for the Olympics.
“Our qualification can be dicey if we don’t start now; we don’t have to sit down at home and not do the right thing or not prepare well and you expect to win; those days are over.
“Teams that prepare better also have the chance to win,’’ he said.
He noted that efforts had been made to get the foreign-based players to camp, especially those in Europe, but regretted that their clubs were not cooperating with him on the players’ release.
Siasia, therefore, said that the technical crew would have no choice than to rely on home-based players to prepare for the competition, rather than depend on those the handlers were not sure of their availability.
“I don’t want to rely so much on the foreign-based players because if they fail us it will be a big problem.
“Right now, I don’t have another team apart from the one that went for the African Games but we need to improve on it,’’ he added.
The coach urged the Nigeria Football Federation (NFF) to ensure that clubs released the invited players as soon as possible to enable the country qualify for the Olympics.