My big gamble paid off

Fans say U-23 Olympics win big gamble

Lagos – Football fans on Friday described the Nigeria’s U-23 Dream Team 5-4 win over Japan at the Amazon Arena in Manaus, Brazil at the ongoing Rio Olympics as a big gamble.

The fans, who expressed their displeasure while reacting to the victory, told the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) that the ill-treatment meted to the players by sports administrators was uncalled for.

They said that though the Dream Team VI started on a good note, this was just a game out of the many games they would play at the Olympics.

NAN reports that the team had a torrid time in Atlanta, Georgia where they were left stranded for days hoping to get a flight to connect Brazil.

“The team barely got to Manaus two hours before their match kick-off time, but nonetheless sprang a surprise by winning.

The team’s Media Officer, Timi Ebiakagboro, had said on his twitter handle that it took the intervention of the Vice-President, Yemi Osinbajo to save the country.

“The beauty of things here is that the vice-president, the Info minister and all other Federal Government partners are doing everything humanly possible to fly us to Manaus,’’ Mr Ebiakagboro tweeted.

In spite of the disappointment, the team took their destiny in their hands, thus winning the first match which provides some
succour that they may do well in the men’s football event.

However, some Nigerians think otherwise, saying that such administrative lapses should not have happened in the first place.

They contended that the football administrators had enough time to prepare well ahead of the Olympics before the unfortunate flight delay.

Olusegun Arabi, a sports consultant, said that the flight imbroglio clearly shows the nation’s unpreparedness for competitions.

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He added that sports administrators needed a reform.

“This is actually shameful; for the sport ministry and football house to be claiming that they are sourcing for funds for the flight of the team is what I don’t understand.

“The Rio Olympics date is a date not given in an emergency, so they have all the time to prepare for all the logistics, so why the delayed flight.

“I think for the boys, they were more determined to do whatever they can to win the match without regards to whatever that might have happened to them.

“The team played to satisfaction save the last minutes’
unnecessary goals they conceded, they have something to prove with such victory,’’ he said.

For another sports analyst with City FM, Lagos, Sam Ogbodo, the Dream Team VI flight delay was more than what met the eyes, querying why the boys were left stranded in the U.S.

“The question we should be asking is that why were they stranded? I think the Nigeria Football Federation (NFF) works with a budget.

“This competition should have been provided for in the budget for the year since it is a calendar tournament.

“Some people should be answering some questions.

“The only saving grace is that the team won the match, if not there would have been another story to tell entirely.

“The team’s quest to prove a point actually saved our faces but we have been ridiculed already by the flight delay which does not portray us as a serious country,’’ he said.

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A businessman, Bolaji Adesanmi, said that it was so sad to see Nigeria in such a mess before attending a major event.

“We should bury our faces in shame for allowing this predicament to befall us before a major competition which we are well aware of.

“How can we explain it that we are sourcing for funds for the team’s fight ticket some days to the tournament; do we
still have football administrators in this country?

“They should explain to us what they are superintending over with this kind of failure at the Rio Olympics,’’ he queried.

Olabisi Junaid, in his submission, said that the boys deserved
recommendation from all for their bravery and patriotic display during the match.

“The boys were so brave to have won the match in spite of the disappointment, its long I saw such determination last.

“The team did not mind the jet lag, not having adequate time to train together and other problems to win a match they should have ordinarily lost.

“Maybe the team is not looking at it the way we are suggesting it should be because they should have been demoralised before the game which turned out to be untrue.

“I pray they continue in such spirit but the sports administrators should stop taking everybody for granted,’’ he advised.

NAN reports that 5 star performances from Portugal-based CD Feirense playmaker, Oghenekaro Etebo, and Roma’s Striker Sadiq Umar ensured the three points for Nigeria.

An Oghenekaro’s double brace and a fine finish from Sadiq Umar was all Nigeria needed to prevail over their Asian counterparts in the nine goal thriller match. (NAN)

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