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Siasia Raises Bar, As Preparations Hot Up

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Activities in the camp of the U-23 men’s football team, Dream Team VI, will pick up this week as the Coach Samson Siasia-led technical crew moves training programme to the next level, with more players invited from the Nigeria Premier League get set to storm the camp of the team in Abuja.

Head Coach Samson Siasia was quoted by the team’s spokesman Timi Ebikagboro, as saying that from December 7, invited foreign-based professional players would be expected to arrive the team’s camp to join the team and commence their screening.

“We don’t have time on our hands, so from the program we have drawn up, the team will continue screening from the 1st to the 6th of December, then the overseas based would join them from the 7th and screening for them will continue till the 12th of December when we will, hopefully, travel to Bauchi to play a friendly game.”

Siasia disclosed that any home-based player who fails to report to the camp of the team between December 1-6 should forget about coming to camp as they have all been given enough opportunity to showcase their talent and earn themselves a place in the team.

He added that from December 8 to 11 the technical crew will concentrate on looking at the foreign-based players who will be interested in playing for the country.

Disclosing that the team’s technical crew have given over 1,000 players from the local scene enough time to fight for shirts, Samson Siasia said aside the players from Enyimba FC who were invited and did not show up for the exercise, all other invited players from the Premier League honoured the invitation.

Speaking on why the technical crew had to go through this difficult process to get players for the team, the U-23 gaffer said based on his experience when he handled the Flying Eagles and had some of his players disqualified days to their first game, he does not want to suffer the same fate this time around.

“We want to be very meticulous the time around in the caliber of players who we will eventually settle for, I have used this method in the past and in the process discovered some players who where not known and today they are stars, we have over 50,000 youths eligible to play in this team, so inviting only a handful of League players to camp is shutting the doors to over 49, 000 other eligible players.”

Siasia added that when the team reconvenes on January 4 after going on break on December 20, all selected players must come with their international passports, while those from the local scene must add a photocopy of their club licences for the past season.

He also disclosed that only players born on or after January 1, 1993 are eligible to play for the team, and as such all those who do not fall under this category need not bother to come to the camp even if they have been invited.

Siasia’s first assignment will be to qualify the team for the Men’s Football event of the 11th All-Africa Games (taking place in Brazzaville, Republic of Congo in July 2015). Their first hurdle will be a qualifying fixture against Gabon, with the first leg away in Libreville towards the end of February and the return leg early March in Nigeria. The winner of that fixture squares up against the winner of the fixture between Zambia and Madagascar in late March.

Meanwhile, as the battle to win jerseys in the present national U-23 men’s football team, the Dream Team VI hots up, the Samson Siasia-led team on Saturday evening defeated the NYSC football team 3-0.

The NYSC team put up an impressive display with their physical style of play but the calm and skillful set of youthful players battling for places in Nigeria’s Olympic squad subdued them in a game played at the FIFA Goal Project, Abuja.

Among prominent figures in the stands to watch the game was the Director General of the NYSC Brig. Gen. Johnson Olawumi, who came to give his boys support.

The entertaining game kicked off at about 4.15pm, with the Samson Siasia-led boys parading the likes of Etim Mathew and Samuel Adegbenro dictating the pace of the game as Azubuike held sway in the midfield, while Samuel Adegbenro and youthful Newman Doubra tormented their opponents from the flanks.

Despite the support from the singing supporters of the NYSC team, it was the U-23 team who looked more mobile that had the game under control from the blast of the refs whistle.

It was their fifth win since they started the screening exercise in Abuja.

The Dream Team VI had earlier defeated Wazobia FC Abuja 5-0, Jay 1 6-0, played a 2-2 draw with Inter Milan FC, forced Football College to a 1-1 draw, defeated Dara FC 4-0 and on Friday morning beat Amackson Academy of Abuja 2-1.

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