With the 2016 Rio Olympics only a matter of days away from beginning in Brazil, Nigeria Under-23 coach Samsom Siasia has praised experienced team captain John Obi Mikel.
The Chelsea midfielder is one of the overage players selected in the Nigerian Olympic men’s football team, known as the Dream Team VI.
He has also been chosen as captain of the men’s football squad, and will lead them into battle in Brazil, to the delight of coach Siasia.
The 29-year-old has also been confirmed as the Nigeria Olympic Team captain, alongside table tennis star Funke Oshonaike as the assistant team captain, which means that they will lead Nigeria’s Olympic contingent out at the opening ceremony in Rio.
Announcing the captaincy for Dream Team VI over the weekend, Siasia was pleased to be able to call on Mikel to skipper his charges.
“It’s just natural for me to pick Mikel as our captain,” Siasia told the media, according to AfricanFootball.
“Aside the fact that he is the captain of the Super Eagles, he is also Team Nigeria captain, so after meeting with both of them and explaining my position, I am pleased to say Azubuike (Okechukwu), who has been our captain understood and was happy to hand over the captain’s band to Mikel,” he added.
The fact that Mikel will act as a leader for the entire nation, over and above his duties as Dream Team VI captain, is a fact that stirs pride in the Under-23 coach.
“It is a thing of joy for my team to produce the first footballer to captain Team Nigeria to the Olympics. This, to me, is more than gratifying,” Siasia proudly confirmed.
The tournament begins on August 4, and on Monday the squad departs for Brazil from Atlanta, where they have been holding a training camp.
Nigeria have been drawn in Group B alongside Sweden, Colombia and Japan for the Rio Olympic games men’s tournament, and will be looking to progress with an eye on the podium.
The Nigerians begin their assault on the Olympic men’s title with a game against Japan on August 4.