Coach Samson Siasia has commended his players, especially the Captain, John Mikel Obi, for ensuring that the country did not fail to return with a medal.
He also thanked the President of the Nigeria Olympic Committee (NOC), Habu Gumel, and the Minister of Youth and Sports, Solomon Dalung for their contributions to the achievement.
“I want to say thanks to the players. They did a great job. It is good to take something home,” Siasia said after winning bronze medal of the men’s football event of the Rio 2016 Olympics in Brazil.
“Having bronze is not easy, we are happy and we have to celebrate. We have to enjoy this moment,” a relieved Siasia said.
He also thanked the Brazilian crowd for being there for the team throughout the matches involving Nigeria at the Games that ended on Aug. 21.
“I want to thank Brazil for the great support and hospitality. We are very pleased staying here.”
Reacting, Obi said at the Mineirao Stadium: “I was disappointed against Germany, where we lost 0-2 in the semi-finals because I don’t like losing, I always want to win.
“But I am so proud of this team; they boys worked so hard”.
He said of Coach Siasia: “We have an amazing coach, he’s always been there for his boys’’.
He added that winning a medal meant a lot to Nigerians, adding that “it is very important, because football in Nigeria is absolutely massive.
“We had extra-pressure but we have done it for us, for our family, for Nigeria”.
Gumel, the leader of the Team Nigeria to the Games said: “I commend you for relieving all Nigerians at home and abroad all the tension that marked our presence at the Games.
“It is rewarding to at least take home a bronze. I know it could have been better.
“They have broken a jinx of returning home empty handed since the last London 2012 Olympic Games. Opportunities are there for us all to plan for the future’’.
Also, Dalung said that “the players and coaches are the “real heroes” of the Games.
An elated Dalung said the two goals from Umar Sadiq and one from Aminu Umar provided that country the opportunity to smile with the medal.
He said that it came at a time when many people had lost hope in Team Nigeria’s ability to win any medal at the Rio Games.
“I want to commend these brave heroes who against all odds surmounted obstacles to finish as the third best team in the football event.
“They are the real heroes of this Olympics. They showed determination in the face of challenges to win this `golden’ bronze’’.
He added that the victory was testament to the unrelenting Nigerian spirit and the belief of Nigerians never to give up in the face of stiff opposition and adversity.
“I believe the nucleus of future Super Eagles can be built around this U-23 side that performed creditably in spite of numerous challenges before and during the Games.
“This victory is symbolic. It came at the right time and it is the beginning of something new in Nigerian sports.’’
“Overall, Nigeria placed 75th of 205 countries.
“We could have done better but we will now have to go home and bring all stakeholders on board to begin preparations for the next Olympics. (NAN)