Dream Team VI forward Taiwo Awoniyi has told his team-mates that Nigeria’s qualification to the Rio Olympic in Brazil next year is non-negotiable.
Nigeria, who in 1996 became the first African country to win Olympic gold, have not had the smoothest of preparations with coach Samson Siasia having been unable to secure the release of all his foreign-based players. Not making the trip to Senegal is Manchester City sensation Kelechi Iheanacho, as well as Granada’s Isaac Success.
The Liverpool forward who is currently on loan at German outfit FSV Frankfurt in an interview on CAF’s official website said;
“It is all about hard work and it is work time,” Awoniyi said. “Qualifying for the Rio Olympics is non-negotiable as we have no excuse to give Nigerians, that’s why we have to put in our best to get something out of Senegal.” Awoniyi stated.
Success’ late withdrawal from the final squad however opened the door for Victor Osimhen, who secured the Golden Boot at the recently concluded FIFA U-17 World Cup with ten goals in seven matches as Nigeria successfully defended the title they won in UAE two years ago.
Despite having to endure an unscheduled emergency stop in Accra en route to a training camp in Gambia and the kidnapping of coach Samson Siasia’s mother, the team begun their race in the two-week tournament on a good note with a 3-2 victory over an unlucky Malian on Sunday as they remain one of the favourites.
Awoniyi, who is one of three European-based players in the squad scored both goals in his side’s 2-1 victory against Congo DR in the final qualifying round.