Team Nigeria captain Mikel Obi has said the national U-23 team will go into Wednesday’s semi-final game against Germany with a winning mentality, like they have done in their previous games at the Rio 2016 Olympics.
African champions Nigeria defeated Denmark 2-0 to advance to the last four stage, while the Germans hammered Portugal 4-0 to seal a clash with the Atlanta 1996 Olympic champions.
Mikel, who is also the U-23 team captain, maintained his stance of picking a medal before returning to join his English Premier League side Chelsea.
“For every game we want to play, we prepare to win. Not one match is different and our focus remains the same,” Mikel, who grabbed the opener against the Danes, said in Rio.
However, it is doubtful if forward Oghenekaro Etebo, who scored four goals in the team’s opening game versus Japan in Manaus, will be fit for the crucial game against the Germans.
The Portugal-based player copped an injury during the final Group B 2-0 defeat to Colombia and missed the quarter-final clash against Denmark.
The Nigerians are pitted against a free-scoring German side who have scored 19 goals in four games.
Meanwhile, the Nigeria Football Federation President Amaju Pinnick believes coach Samson Siasia can come up with the right strategy to steer the Nigeria U-23 team past their European opponents.
Pinnick, who arrived in Sao Paulo on Tuesday, said, “As a federation, we have always had confidence in Samson Siasia. We believed in him enough to appoint him to head the U-23 team and gave him all the support, including organising several friendlies and invitational tournaments for the team over the past 18 months.
“I have confidence in Siasia to take the team to the final match on Saturday.”
Nigeria edged Japan 5-4; beat Sweden 1-0 before then dispatching Denmark 2-0 in the quarter-finals to set up a clash with Germany.
On a personal note, Siasia will aim to equal his record of playing in the Olympics final after losing the final match to Argentina in Beijing 2008.
Brazil will take on Honduras in the first semi-final at the Maracana Stadium in Rio de Janeiro also on Wednesday. The Nigeria/Germany match starts at 4pm (8pm Nigeria time).