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“I’m done with Nigeria for now…. Let them eat their national team” – Samson Siasia

BellaNaija.com

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Samson Siaisia

Samson Siaisia

Coach of the National U-23 team, Samson Siasia has said that he’s leaving Nigerian Football for the time being, pending when there is a change in the leadership and structure of Nigerian Football and Sports in general.

Siasia who led the team to win Bronze at the just concluded Olympic Games in Rio, Brazil, made this known in an interview with Vanguard’s Jude Opara.

He explained what led to their being stranded in Atlanta for days, and why the players rejected the first flight that was supposed to take them to Brazil.

He also spoke of efforts of the Vice President, Minister of Information, and Minister of Finance, in solving the crisis during their time in Atlanta.

Read excerpts below:

The minister accused you of child trafficking for taking the team to Atlanta without his knowledge or consent.

How can I take a national team out of the country without their knowledge of the NFF and the Sports Ministry? I really don’t know were that was coming from. We had the plan to travel from Atlanta to Brazil on the 29th of July. But the agent who was handling that did not get us the chartered flight or pay for our tickets, but nothing actually happened and that was when I, on my own, decided to contact an agent, Greg. But the guy said he would not do anything until he saw that the money was paid into his account. After three days, the guy said he was no longer interested and even told other operators not to deal with us that we were not a serious people.

Back at the camp in Atlanta. How was it?

The first 10 days was like a hell because we had to struggle to pay for hotel accommodation and feeding because the person, Bunmi, who opted to assist us did not get the necessary support he expected. But after the fist 10 days the Ministry came through the Nigeria Football Federation (NFF) and paid for our bills. But we were stranded in Atlanta because the money they said they paid to one Poopola for us to travel never came and nobody has heard anything about it.

What was your level of communication with the NFF and the Ministry while in Atlanta?

No, nobody called me from the ministry. The Minister was dealing with Mikel, may be because he was the captain of the Olympic team. But when we had the plane issue, the Vice President called and I spoke with him like two times, the Finance Minister called and indeed the first person to call was the Minister for Information, Lai Mohammed.

I must say he did a nice job to see how to solve our problem because I think the President heard about our plight and instructed that they should find a way to solve the problem. They were, I believe, embarrassed because the issue was even on CNN every time.

However, the chartered flight thing never worked out because the guy they were discussing with called me and we tried to see how to arrange the fight but there was no money sent to him and so it didn’t work out too. So the option we had was to arrive Rio the very day we were to play and that could have resulted in a walk-over of our team.

We had a chartered 36-seater flight that was to take us to arrive Rio by 2 o’clock while our game was at 9 o’clock. But the players were afraid of that flight because it was very small and when we got to the airport, Delta called through the same Bunmi guy.

In fact, they were supposed to partner with Delta but I don’t know what happened. When they heard of our plight they called him to offer a big plane to fly us the next day so as to arrive five hours before the match. Indeed we were already at the airport to fly that small plane which was paid for by a friend of mine, but when the players heard that Delta was coming, they insisted that we should watt for it. In fact they were almost dying out of fear.

When I called Mikel to tell him about the development, he said ‘I beg, please let us wait for tomorrow for the bigger plane which is safer and better’. All the players were happy and excited that we were not going to fly that small plane and perhaps that is the reason they came out to play the way they did with all their mind.

Indeed Delta did a great job. Even when the CBN 46 came to the hotel, we refused to tell them about our problems because it was about Nigeria, even though every thing was already in the public domain. Talking to them would not have changed anything.

Now Delta said the cost of flying us was about $250,000 dollars but that they were not charging us. They said if we had it the money could be paid to any charity organization of mine or Mikel but we have not seen anything and that appears like another fraud. We took pictures with Delta to promote them and thank them for their support.

I am telling you what actually happened. We are still waiting to see where the money that was meant for us to fly to Brazil has gone to. Nobody has said anything. The federal government sent the money to the Nigeria Olympic Committee (NOC) and the NOC said they sent the money to the airline in Florida which up till now they have not received anything, even the airline is planning to sue them for breach of contract because they were supposed to pay some money to them even if they were to cancel the arrangement. That is even another issue. We don’t even know how they are going to settle that.

The Minister categorically said he never knew where you were and that you were engaging in human trafficking, is that true?

(Laughs) I don’t know what he was talking about. When I first heard about human trafficking and such stuff, I was angry because the Minister knew that we were going to Atlanta. If not that they stole my phone, I would have shown to you his text message to me before we traveled.

That day the U-20 defeated us 3-2 in our last warm-up match, the Minister sent me a text that I should come so that we can chat but when I went they said he went to the Villa.

He knew exactly what was going on because there was no way he would not know because the Olympic team is statutorily under his control, it is his baby and that has been the way it is. So I don’t understand why he should say I was engaging in child trafficking.

Would you say that yours trip to Atlanta has been justified?

Yes because they say that the end justifies the means and if not for that it would have been very annoying because after working very hard for two years without anything to show for it would have been disastrous.

It would have been a waste of time and effort. I am happy because in spite of all that we went through both here at home and in Atlanta, this is the only team that won a medal for the country.

It felt so good when the Nigerian team was called alongside the Brazilian and German national teams with the Nigerian flag hoisted there, that is what we were talking about, putting Nigeria where so many other countries didn’t have the chance to be and that is why I say that these boys need to be commended for what they did. This is something that money cannot even buy.

It appears that the team has been disbanded because there was no official reception and send forth of the team, so what is the next thing for Samson Siasia?

Personally, I was not really surprised that they did not welcome us because most of them were actually waiting and praying for us to fail but we disappointed them by winning that medal. But most sports loving Nigerians who were not on the saddle came out on their own and they were the ones that really appreciated what we did.

Look at this way, if things were done properly, they should have at least informed the Lagos State government that the Olympic team was arriving so that they could welcome us on behalf of the government but nobody told them anything. There was no connection from the Nigeria Football Federation (NFF) or the Ministry of Sports. They knew we were coming. It was only one staff of the ministry that was sent to take us to hotel.

What is your next step with the National team?

My next step is that I am done with Nigeria for now. You can’t keep going to a place where they don’t appreciate you. It’s not worth it. Sometimes it is not about the money but the approach. They seem not to appreciate the sacrifices. I know how much I have sacrificed since the team began camping two years ago. How can you keep going to people who don’t appreciate you? It does not make sense, so I am done for now. I have to go somewhere else where they will appreciate what I have done and what I can do and pay me the respect that I deserve.

But many Nigerians out there still appreciate you.

I know and that is why I keep coming to do the dirty jobs for them because of my numerous fans out there but I can’t just continue because those fans are not the policy makers. How can you keep toiling for five months without even your salary? Nothing has changed in the last two years. It has been from bad to worse, so we must sit down and do something about the structure of Nigerian football and by extension sports in general. It doesn’t worth it to work with the people running sports now in Nigeria. From the Federation to the sports ministry. They don’t have it and will not give what they don’t have. It feels bad.

Imagine any time they have a problem, they will call on me to come and help but they will use me and later dump me. I have not started any team of the Super Eagles from the beginning, not even one time. I want to thank them very very much. Even before I returned from the Olympics, the only car they gave me, they took it away from my wife. That is just awesome. That is not how to treat someone who was out there seeking glory for the nation. Let them eat their national team.

Read the rest of the interview HERE.

28 Comments

  1. le coco

    August 27, 2016 at 2:08 pm

    We dont. lame you.. you have tried.. let Dalung coach the national team.. bunch of jokers.. taking people for granted.. now they will call you unpatriotic.. stupid people

  2. Prince

    August 27, 2016 at 2:19 pm

    The Minister of Sports is the worst minister Nigeria has ever had. He’ll be speaking rubbish. Annoying man

  3. Iris

    August 27, 2016 at 2:26 pm

    I sha hope they gave him the money that the Japanese guy sent.
    Dear Thieving Association of Nigeria big and small, there will continue to be success stories in spite of your madness. There will be honest and motivating successes in all areas of life and all you will have to show for your life will be bearer of the title Glorified Robbers.They know themselves.
    That is all.

  4. Jo

    August 27, 2016 at 2:47 pm

    Just wow! Which way Nigeria? The sports minister should resign. It is only in Nigeria that an incompetent fellow will hold on tightly to an office. Thank you Siasia for your service to this country. We, the people, appreciate you even if the government doesn’t.

  5. Dtruth

    August 27, 2016 at 3:12 pm

    Delta flew the team on Charter to Rio as part of marketing and promotion for their Company on the basis that if the Nigerian Govt provide the funds, they will donate to charity of Siasia and Mikel’s choice(s). I assume the money was released later by the government / Sports ministry so what happened to it? Or Buhari’s govt never released it? My soul left my body for a minute and made a quick return…Nigeria is a joke…Tufiakwa…

  6. Naijatalk

    August 27, 2016 at 3:18 pm

    I wish I didn’t even read this article. Late Keshi, Oliseh, and now Siasia. I mean even if na curse, haba! This is just too ridiculous. And as usual, they will move on from this, forgetting that there is a World Cup to prepare for in 2018.
    This nation needs help

  7. mrs chidukane

    August 27, 2016 at 3:32 pm

    I actually cried as I read this article. What a shame. One thieving politician can even sponsor the team but they won’t. Thought Arik flies international abi I’m wrong? Couldn’t they have taken them? At this point I’m wondering what use it is to one being Nigerian? The way these people hold on to money as if it’s their personal money. Big shame!

    • mrs chidukane

      August 27, 2016 at 3:34 pm

      The worst is they said Popoola…, bunmi… What are the official designations of these people? Under which office are they operating? What a mess.

    • Amaa

      August 27, 2016 at 10:03 pm

      Couldn’t a presidential jet just one be released for them to fly. GMB was speaking grammar . Sports died with politics I am Ashamed of the sports minister of our president

  8. Baby gurl

    August 27, 2016 at 3:42 pm

    It beats me how Solomon Dalung is still on that seat. He is a very big FAILURE same with PMB who has refused to sack him. I voted for rubbish.

    • nene+

      August 27, 2016 at 4:49 pm

      And to think that Buhari screened and scanned round Nigeria for 6 months to pick an incompetent Dalung? United States of Nigeria? What a joke!
      Not surprised at coach Siasia’s interview.
      When you elect people with congealed brain did you expect they will be interested in the youth?
      I can’t stop appreciating the Japanese surgeon other wise the boys would have returned to become conductors or barbers.

      Our president is busy reading cartoon and smiling daily with his children and grandchildren as Nigerians languish in poverty. He must have found the dog name cartoon very exciting.

      Sai Baba

  9. xplorenollywood.com

    August 27, 2016 at 3:51 pm

    Well done Siasia despite the strong challenges u soared! We support u 110%! U played for the country, coached for the country, biko u have paid ur dues to the nation!

  10. Fani

    August 27, 2016 at 4:27 pm

    They took back the car he was given before he got back from Olympics wtf who are these demons? When they say Nigeria is fantastically corrupt people will be making noise. Every single organisation in Nigeria has been invaded by corruption . From Civil Service to Banks! It’s disheartening because the so called Minister of Sports is a young man and he’s even more messed up. If the younger ones are not any better what’s the future of This Country going to be like ? It’s scary

  11. Ba

    August 27, 2016 at 4:44 pm

    Absolutely barbaric. This faeces can’t continue.

  12. Atreides

    August 27, 2016 at 5:02 pm

    Anybody that is willing to sacrifice and die for this country is a compound fool.
    Nigeria is not worth anything.

    God bless you Siasia.
    You try!

  13. Tee

    August 27, 2016 at 5:11 pm

    @Nene it is now a disease that needs serious attention, trust me you need to be on medication till 2019. PMB traveled round for 6yrs and chose the former ministers during Keshi and Oliseh’s time too. Hmmmmm your hatred should be eating you up by now. I bet PMB is behind your governor not performing too. Oh sorry! I forgot Fashola’s and Ambode are state governors since they arethe ones you scrutinise. Sister, get a life or a home to keep you happy. You need am. Siasia, biko leave this jokers, you deserve better. Abeg when that lady go write the book “on what they don’t tell you bef you relocate.” for diasporans. Include Naija sport ministers too and their shenanigans.

    • Ello Bae

      August 27, 2016 at 5:30 pm

      You must have a personal beef with Nene cos this your comment is nothing short of pepper-body. Let bygones be bygones.

    • Bey

      August 27, 2016 at 9:04 pm

      So you thot of dis crap you wrote, put it down in writing, signed in and clicked on post comment.
      Dear are u on any meds???

    • nene+

      August 27, 2016 at 11:20 pm

      It’s so easy to identify people can’t afford three square meal anymore!
      @ Tee swap your phone for a bucket of garri and ekpa to step down your severe hunger and astigmatism.
      Suffering and smiling. Don’t think of how you will survive till 2019. Onye egbuwalu isi!

  14. nnenne

    August 27, 2016 at 5:27 pm

    @Tee…
    Truth hurts. Doesn’t it?
    Enjoy your weekend , dear.

  15. Suga

    August 27, 2016 at 6:18 pm

    Ewoo oo! I thought Buharis cabinet and ministers are corrupt free unlike the “previous administration” like they said?.Odi mma, Siasia I hope you and your family are still safe after this revelation? Wishing you the very best as you move on for your own good. You have also made the best decision else you would have been officially sacked from the venue of this interview. APC=CHANGE!!!

  16. lovelyhannah

    August 27, 2016 at 6:20 pm

    Samson Siasia, I beg take your talent some where else where they will appreciate an celebrate you. Nigeria is a Joke and nothing good can come out of there. they are just a bunch of thieves and useless heads. TUFIAKWA.

  17. lami

    August 27, 2016 at 7:59 pm

    This is disheartening, I was hoping that someone would defintely get sacked and the rio mess investigated but we ve not heard anything concerning the issue , I believe everything have been swept under the carpet the nigeria way.

  18. FasholasLover

    August 27, 2016 at 8:49 pm

    How come ya’all not calling out the President of the NFF? The last comment l made about Amaju Pinnick, Bella used it to sew National flag. Bloody thief. The question is, how do these lot get these posts? Dalung, Amaju?? What experience qualifies them for the office they hold? When you appoint incompetent people into positions of authority, you should expect nothing but failure.

  19. Kkay

    August 27, 2016 at 10:31 pm

    Siasa, you are a great man. You’ve shown patriotism.
    Please, move on to a higher level.
    This evil NFF will not see your shadow. All they do is steal money meant for players and buy houses …. like the one I once lived in Lagos.
    Keshi and Amodu ‘s death got me thinking…….strange.

    As for PMB, I said it before the elections that he was too old at 72 to fight corruption or lead Nigeria especially in this e-age. I knew his supposed party members and those surrounding him would outsmart him.
    Let’s pray for this country and do what is right .

  20. uyai

    August 28, 2016 at 2:58 am

    Well done Siaisia. You have revealed the truth. Stephen Keshi tried but he wasn’t celebrated. Siasia please take your career somewhere else. Nigeria as a country and the leaders ain’t ready to learn. All what they want is foreign aids. Nonsense

  21. BishopTandO

    August 28, 2016 at 8:58 pm

    Welldone Mr Siasia….. How about the rest of us start a twitter hastag #BuharifireDalungNOW? The harsh reality of a failed Nigeria becomes evident more and more every single day. This whole story reads like a Nigerian Soap opera where the characters are fictional but keep you captivated by how outrageous they seem. A sitting sports minister is accusing a national team coach of “child trafficking?” How ridiculous is that? First there are no “children” on the team; second if it was remotely true he would have been arrested. SIGH…..

  22. nene

    August 29, 2016 at 8:15 pm

    how will arik air support? nigerians only help when they have something to get from it. they don’t do anything out of the willingness of their hearts. there’s always something they are trying to get. This country needs to be cleansed. we need a revolution and we need discipline and order because it has eaten deep into the average nigerian, down to the hawkers and the child in primary school. nigeria needs discipline and law

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