Samson Siasia, Nigeria’s Bronze winning coach at Rio 2016 has made more damning revelations as to how the team weathered the storm to achieve success at Brazil during the summer. In an interview with BBC, Bayelsa born Siasia revealed he had quit his post as under-23 coach and has now made more startling revelations as to the team’s adventure in Atlanta and Rio de Janeiro.
‘I’m still being owed five months salary. They said it’s due to TSA (Treasury single account) but i hope they will pay me since my contract has elapsed so that i can go and rest. I thank them for the opportunity to serve my country and it’s time to go and rest before thinking of the next move’ Siasia told Complete Football magazine.
‘I want to savour this bronze medal which is worth more than gold, i’m going on vacation to the United states next week. I need the rest. After that i can begin to plan. For now i need to rest.’
When Siasia was asked the driving force behind his strength in adversity giving that he had faced similar situations at Benin 2005 African youth championship, FIFA U-20 World cup and Beijing 2008, he said;
‘I think it’s the never say die attitude of the average Nigerian. We usually give our best when our backs are to the wall. It’s the power of Naija. I needed to prove myself and didn’t want to use a lack of funds as an excuse not to do well. The whole country was behind us and at the end of the day, we did what we had to do. It’s a personal principle to give any job i get my best shot and that’s what we did. Seeing the joy that medal brought to Nigerians was enough satisfaction for me. I mean the reception at the airport was massive and i also thank the media for their support’
When asked if he’ll be wiling to handle the team again, Siaisa emphatically replied;
‘My brother, the answer is no, Capital NO! The experience was harrowing. I don’t want to die young. I still have a family that needs me to stay alive. Nobody ought to be subjected to that kind of experience once in a lifetime. But for Siasia, it’s now more than once. Since 2005, the story has not changed. I won’t touch the job with a long pole if there are no changes to the way we run our football. It’s a no,no,no for me.’
‘Sure i’ll love to win Gold but who says it must be with Nigeria? If another country offers me the opportunity to lead them to the Olympics and i see that they have a culture of doing things the right way, why not? As for the record that you talked about (Africa’s most successful coach at the Olympics) i’m glad but i’m not chasing records. I just want to do a good job anytime i’m called on.’
When Siasia was asked how his team managed to defeat Japan, despite arriving in Brazil five hours before kick off, Siasia said;
‘What happened was that we had already packed our luggage for two days hoping we were going to travel at any moment so we didn’t train for those two days. When things started getting out of hand , a friend of mine chartered a small plane, a 30-seater plane, which was our only option to get to Brazil in time for our first match. So i brought all the players downstairs to explain to them why we had to make do with that small plane. The alternative was to miss our first match which was unacceptable. They were all afraid because of the size of the plane. You know Mikel doesn’t even like flying at all, let alone in a small plane like the one we had at our disposal. All the boys were so afraid but i convinced them them to leave for the airport and that nothing will go wrong’
‘We arrived at the airport in the evening to take the small plane and that was when we heard that the guy who took us to Atlanta for camping had something to do with Delta Airlines but they didn’t come through until that day. They said they saw the news on television that the team was stranded and that they had a plane going to Rio and that they can drop us off in Manaus on their way. That was right before we boarded the small plane so we told the players that we have another option of a bigger plane for the next day. They were all excited and said they will wait for that extra day because they were not comfortable with the smaller plane. We waited and flew the next day. The agreement we had with them was that any amount that were due to be paid them by the sports ministry should be donated to any charitable organization of our choice. The boys were happy and i think that finally changed their mood and prepared them for the match ahead.’
‘Another thing that helped was the experience we had in Atlanta. Our first ten days were not so good because the sponsors didn’t come through and there was a shortage of everything. We were struggling to transport the players to and fro training and all that stuff. It was very serious and i was tempted to give up sometimes but when i looked at the players i knew i just couldn’t do that. We had so called sponsors who were supposed to take care of us for 10 days, just 10 days but they couldn’t do that. Even some of the friendly games that were lined up we couldn’t play them . It was 10 days of hell in Atlanta.’
‘When Delta offered to fly us, it was a relief. I’d spoken to the Minister of Finance, i also spoke with the Vice president as well as Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed. I thank them all for their assistance and good intentions but nothing actually came through. The guy who chartered that plane for us, i don’t want to mention his name because he doesn’t like publicity, paid $140,000 and we had to abandon it for the bigger plane. It was a big mess! So i believe having gone through all this difficulties, the players flt challenged and determined to show the world that they deserved to be a part of the Olympics and that with or without troubles they are as good as any other team.”
‘The experience was harrowing, do you know how much i spent on that team right from Nigeria and at the Atlanta camp, i thank God for football lovIng friends who came to our aid at the U.S. Looking at the faces of my players when we had no money was a scary experience for me. How can i camp someone’s child without feeding him well and rebuke him if he didn’t do well? The players achieved what we did because they were as good as any other team, they gave their best for Nigeria and i salute them.
Source: Complete Football Magazine, August 29th Issue