By Jacob Ajom
Unless there is a change of fortune in the camp of the Rio Olympics-bound U-23 team, international disgrace awaits Nigeria in Brazil.

The Nigeria U-23 Olympic team that have been camping in Atlanta, USA are not in the best of moods to produce the desired performance that can guarantee  the kind of results expected of them.

“The morale in camp is low, the boys are unhappy and I fear, the poor situation could boomerang during the Games.” That was the fear of the team’s chief coach, Samson Siasia who spoke from the team’s    Atlanta   camp.

Continuing,    Siasia said, “since we began camping about a month now, the players have not been given a dime as camp allowances and for us the coaches, it will be five months of no salaries in August. Certainly, this is not the best way to prepare a team for a major tournament like the Olympics.”

Siasia is calling on the federal government to intervene in order to lift the spirit in camp and give the players a sense of assurance that their labour will not be in vain. “It has been terrible.  The boys are disappointed. I am praying that we avoid a situation similar to that witnessed before the Confederation Cup and during the World Cup in Brazil where there was players’ agitation.

“We will not hold the country to ransom by threatening not to play our matches, but the government has to come to our rescue.

“I know that by the time the Olympics will be over, our monies will not be paid.”

Siasia’s team have been overseas for the past one month.

The Olympic team are due to depart the United States of America for Brazil on Friday.

The Olympic team suffered government neglect as even the Nigeria Football Federation could not help them. It was through the personal effort of the coach, Samson Siasia that a private sponsor was secured before the team could travel to the USA for pre-Games camping.

“After a month-long camping in the US, through which they stayed under very poor conditions not befitting of a Nigerian national team, the anger in the players may overflow and they may fight back with the threat of a strike as their first option,” a source said.

Our source disclosed further, “during training sessions, all the players had were two packs of bottled water. The hotel they stayed only served them breakfast, while their lunch and dinner were bought from outside eateries.”

The coach, Samson Siasia even suffered in the hands of thieves who burgled his expensive car and made away with valuables.

Nigeria had no hand in their build up as even the Sports Minister, Solomon Dalung openly distanced himself and the federal government from the team’s Olympic Games pre-tournament tour of the USA.

The minister, who made the statement at a stakeholders meeting in preparation for the Olympics explained, “I am just hearing the news of their suffering and threat to throw them out of their hotel in US, for the first time. We don’t know who took them there and what their mission there is.”

Sports Vanguard further gathered that the players have not been paid any allowances.

Penultimate week, President Muhammadu Buhari directed the immediate release of funds to Team Nigeria but as at press time, we were yet to be informed  whether the money has been released.

The Olympic team are due to depart the United States of America for Brazil on Friday.

It can be recalled that the national U-20 team, Flying Eagles crashed out of the 2017 Africa U-20 Cup of Nations holding in Zambia after the team staged a strike due to owed allowances. Coach, Emmanuel Amuneke and his assistants are still being owed eight months salaries.


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