I believe the Head Coach of Nigeria’s U23 national team, Samson Siasia, is already making his own plans. Perhaps, undecided at the moment when it comes to the issue of selecting three over aged players to join the team. I am not saying he doesn’t have idea of those he is looking at, but you know how football is. Some players may sudenly loose form,while other new players can pick up terrific form as the days draw near.
But one thing is certain, Siasia will never call-up John Mikel Obi, even if he turn out to be the world's best player in following months. Now, don’t ask me why!
It different, if Odion Ighalo sustain his current form, it may be very difficult for Siasia not to call him up for the Olympics, even where he already has quality strikers like Isaac Success, Taiwo Awoniyi, Victor Osimhen in the team.
Looking back at the team that won the U23 African Cup of nations in Senegal, you may agree with me that Nigerian side had lots of issues with it’s defense line. Honestly, if it wasn’t sheer luck and the individual brilliance of the goalkeeper that team won’t have gone far in the tournament.
I believe Siasia maybe thinking of overhauling the defense entirely. Bringing in players like Super Eagles central defender Kenneth Omeruo, Ghent of Beglium defender Wilfred Ndidi, Leon Balogun, Mohammed Musa. Fortunately, these players fall within the U23 years bracket – that gives Siasia more latitude to select Ogeniyi Onazi to man the defensive midfield and AS Monaco left-back Elderson Echiejine to help fortify the defense.
Siasia may also be considering putting more bite on the attack, introducing fast racers like CSKA Moscow Ahmed Musa, Ghent of Beglium Moses Simon or may be West Ham playmaker Victor Moses.
But again, Siasia has avalanche of midfielders to select from: Azubuike Okechukwu, Ogenekharo Etebo. Kelechi Iheanacho, Alex Iwobi, Kingsley Sokari, Yaya Bello, Chidibere Nwakali, Joshua Onome, Fernando Adi…
Well, you may want to say priorty should be given to the players that won the Olympics ticket, but Siasia’s desire to build a Super Olympic team for Nigeria, may see a lot of these boys not able to meet the standard when the chips are down and these foreign based pros hit the pitch.
Having spoken to some people close to the U23 coaching crew, I found out that the over aged players to join the team are likely to be CSKA Moscow Speed racer Ahmed Musa, Odion Ighalo and Ogeniyi Onazi – all things being equal.