As the semi final fixture against Germany draws near, the national U-23 football team coach, Samson Siasia and his wards spent a better part of yesterday’s training session on how to master penalty taking.
It is an indication that coach Siasia believes in the strength and tactical prowess of his free-scoring opponents, whose desire for success has been underlined by their proficiency in front of opponents’ goal area. They scored 10 against Fiji and finished Portugal with four without conceding any.
But the Nigerian tactician is not losing sleep over the Germans as he believes in his squad. “We are here to win. Considering what we have passed through, we cannot come this far and go home empty-handed,” Siasia said, after his wards sent Denmark home. Siasia reiterated his players’ resolve to win the tournament and believes their oneness and collectivity would see them through.
What worries Nigerians here is the Eagles defence which has conceded six goals in four matches.
Except for their near flawless display against Denmark, the defence line marshalled by Troost Ekong has not been in the best shape. But Siasia believes the boys have made up for their past errors. “We have a better understanding now and I believe the boys have picked up. Denmark gave us a good fight but they stood their grounds,” the coach said in match briefing.
It is expected that the team’s highest scorer, Oghenekaro Etebo who had a knock in the match against Colombia would be back to full fitness.
The U-23 team’s greatest strength is in the midfield where captain Mikel Obi is operating. With the likes of Sadiq Umar, Umar Shehu and Imoh Ezekiel likely to keep their shirts, the U-23 team can possibly shock the rampaging Germans by stopping them on their tracks.