The Nigeria U-23 team which have been formally nicknamed- Dream team V, will on Saturday 26th March 2011 square up against their Guineans counterpart in a crunch Olympic Games qualifier slated for the Samuel Ogbemudia Stadium in Benin City, Nigeria. The team has been in camp for more than a week preparing under the tutelage of Coach Austin Eguaveon.
One important fact about this fixture is that the winner will have a chance to represent Africa at the football event of the 2012 Olympic Games.
The Nigerian team
The Nigeria team is made up of a blend of foreign and home-based players with vast experience at club level. A unique incident which would have seen the National senior team coach clashing with the Olympic team coach was averted, when three players who were previously invited for Nigeria African Nations Cup encounter with Ethiopia were eventually drafted to the Olympic team. The players in question were:
- Ehiosun Ekigho (Warri Wolves F.C, Nigeria)
- Nnamdi Oduamadi(AC Milan, Italy)
- Obiorah Nwankwo(Inter Milan, Italy)
The Nigerian Olympic team received a major boost when all 15 invited professional players reported at their Benin Camp ground. Notable among the invited professionals are Lukman Haruna of Monaco F.C of France, Terna Suswarn of Victoria Setubal of Portugal and striker Odion Ighalo who captained the U-20 National team to the 1999 FIFA Junior World Cup held in Egypt.
Equatorial Guinea team
Not much is known about this team, as they have no established star in their fold. This unknown factor has been a serious source of worry to the technical crew of the Olympic team of Nigeria.
Facts and Figures
- Equatorial Guinea has never qualified for the Olympic football event in the history of the Games
- Nigeria has a strong pedigree in the Olympic football events, having qualified for the Atlanta 1996, Sydney 2000 and Beijing 2008
- The Nigeria Olympic team won gold at the 1996 Atlanta and Silver at the 2008 Beijing Olympics
- Both teams have never met at this level of football
The All African Games/Olympic cracker between Nigeria and Equatorial Guinea will be handled by the following persons:
- Alex Asante(Ghana)- Match Commissioner
- Ibrahim Chaibou- Center referee
- Abdoulaye Mamane- Assistant referee 1
- Mani Abdou Salam- Assistant referee 2
- Ibrahim Mamane- Fourth official
Statistics favor the Nigerian team with the added advantage of playing at home and having the complement of experience and quality players. It will be the biggest upset in football history if Equatorial Guinea wins the encounter. A draw cannot however be ruled out. Kick off time is fixed at 4pm Nigerian time.