Nigeria U23 national team, popularly known as Dream Team, will on Sunday November 29, 2015, kick-off its campaign at the U23 African Cup of Nations (AFCON) in Senegal, with first match against Mali.
A quick look at Malian opposition shows something interesting. Mali U23 national team may prove a hard nut to crack at the tournament – WATCH OUT! The West African country has been doing very well in age grade soccer tournaments, especially this year – won Bronze at the last FIFA U21 World cup and Silver at the just concluded FIFA U17 World cup in Chile.
Mali U23 will be seeking to gain its first Olympics men soccer qualification ticket by building on it’s FIFA U21 world cup success. Head coach, Cheick Qumar Kone announced several of the Bronze medal U21 players in his squad.
Star striker, Souleymane Sissoko and Playmaker, Diadie Samassekou were included alongside midfielder, Souleymane Diarra, Defenders, Aboubacar Doumbia, Souleymane Couilbaly and Goalkeeper, Djigu Diarra.
Kone plays a unique 4-4-2 style, with great ball winners and jugglers crowding the midfield. Mali may match Nigeria U23 team pound for pound, then go on to plot one or two counter attacks to seal a victory. Kone’s match plan may be to stop the free flowing football style of the Dream team and to frustrate all their efforts at the flight of the match.
Samson Siasia, Head coach of Nigeria U23 team is confident with what his boys can do. Dream team has some enterprising ball players like Oghenekaro Etebo, Azubuike Okechukwu and Stanley Dimgba at the midfield.
Although, Siasia couldn’t obtain the services of Manchester City wizkid, Kelechi Iheanacho and Arsenal’s Alex Iwobi for this tournament, but he had to let even star midfielder, Godwin Sokari walk out of team.
Sisasia also lost the services of Granada of Spain goal merchant, Isaac Success due to injury. But there’s nothing to worry as record breaking, FIFA U17 all-time highest goal scorer, Victor Osimhen replaces Isaac; box-to-box striker, Junior Ajayi and lethal goal machine, Taiwo Awoniyi may spearhead Nigeria U23 strike force.
Nigeria will also be facing Egypt and Algeria in the Group. The champions, first and second runner ups in this AFCON tournament will automatically qualify for Rio Olympics men soccer – that’s the target of Siasia and his Dream team.