The final 18-man Nigeria men’s soccer squad for the 2016 Olympic Games has been named, with overage player John Obi Mikel included in the team that will do battle in Rio.
The Chelsea player is captain of the senior national team, the Super Eagles, and will lend his experience to the Under-23 Dream Team VI in Brazil.
Coach Samson Siasia has selected has final squad of players from a provisional selection that has been in training in Atlanta, in the United States.
The Olympic Men’s Football Tournament takes place in August, but clubs are not obliged to release players to take part in the competition, which means that a number of U23 players who were called up have been denied participation by their European clubs.
The European club season begins in August, and the likes of Arsenal’s Alex Iwobi, Watford’s Odion Ighalo and Manchester City’s Kelechi Iheanacho will not be part of Nigeria’s team in Rio, as their clubs have refused to let them play.
Thankfully for the Dream Team VI, 29-year-old Mikel is able to represent his country at Rio, in what will be his first Olympic Games participation.
Goalkeeper Daniel Akpeyi, who plays his club soccer at Chippa United in South Africa, is the only other overage player on the Nigeria squad for Rio 2016.
The tournament begins on August 3, and the Nigerian men’s soccer squad will depart Atlanta for Brazil on Friday, in preparation for the competition, where they hope to replicate past successes at the Olympics.
Eight years ago in Beijing it was Siasia won coached the Nigerian selection that reached the final at the Olympics before falling to Argentina, therefore earning the silver medal.
In 1996 Nigeria became the first African team to win Olympic gold in the men’s football tournament.
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.
Mikel has been selected 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 selection out at the opening ceremony in Rio.
Goalkeepers: Daniel Akpeyi (Chippa FC, South Africa), Emmanuel Daniel (Enugu Rangers)
Defenders: Kingsley Madu (AS Trencin, Slovakia), William Troost-Ekong (Haugesund FC, Norway), Ndifreke Udo (Abia Warriors), Saturday Erimuya (Kayseri Erciyespor, Turkey), Abdullahi Shehu (CF Uniao, Portugal), Muenfuh Sincere (Rhapsody FC), Stanley Amuzie (Olhanense FC, Portugal)
Midfielders: John Mikel Obi (Chelsea, England), Okechukwu Azubuike (Yeni Malatyaspor, Turkey), Usman Muhammed (CF Uniao, Portugal), Oghenekaro Etebo (CD Feirense FC, Portugal), Sodiq Saliu (Seraing FC, Belgium)
Forwards: Aminu Umar (Osmalispor, Turkey), Imoh Ezekiel (Al Arabi, Qatar), Sadiq Umar (AS Roma, Italy), Junior Ajayi (CS Sfaxien, Tunisia)