Chelsea and Nigerian midfielder Mikel Obi reveals difficulties the Nigerian football team faced in Rio.
In some countries, sportsmen and women are treated like Kings—with the proper degree of respect and reverence usually reserved for only those who have made the ultimate sacrifice to use their skills to serve their country.
Nigeria isn't one of those countries. True, sports people are celebrated in Nigeria —but only after they have won. But during the gruelling preparations leading up to competitions, athletes are more often than not—left to fend for themselves.
The last is yet to be heard of Nigeria's chaotic preparations for Rio 2016 as team captain, Mikel Obi has revealed just how much he was involved behind the scenes. Speaking with goal.com the Chelsea midfielder said:
"I said to myself, 'I won’t let this happen. If I can help, I’ll try to help'. Sometimes there was no food, sometimes there was no pitch to train on, there was no bus to go to the training ground. So all of this was what me and the coach had to figure out, and get money together.
"I came to the camp. I sat down with the boys in Atlanta and I could see the frustration, the pain and the anger. Their aim was to play in the Olympics, their goal was to play in the Olympics.
The Chelsea midfielder also spoke about the dramatic first match. On the now infamous incident which saw the team arrive Rio with just hours to spare after haphazard travel arrangements he said: "There was just no flight provided by the Nigerian ministry.
"We planned to leave three or four days before the tournament, but we ended up leaving the day of our first game. It was a difficult one. I don’t think I have ever seen something like that before, it was crazy.
"[After our last minute flight] we got to the hotel, dropped our bags, grabbed some sandwiches, something to eat. A little bit of food. Then headed straight back to the stadium because we hadn’t even done our accreditations then, so we had to go there and wait in the line, do our accreditation.
"It was absolutely hectic. I don’t know how we managed to go onto the pitch and win that game, it was absolutely mind blowing."
He also spoke of his pride at winning bronze, Nigeria's only medal at the competition.
En route Olympic glory Mikel also talked about the numerous problems they faced off the pitch: "We had lots of problems outside the pitch, but I always told the boys that you shouldn’t let that affect what we came here to do. We still want to achieve what we came here to do. We still have to represent our country and play for ourselves and our family and the people of Nigeria.
"So if the ministry don’t want to take responsibility, we have to make sure we play for ourselves and our country. The boys understand that and we made sure they went along with my message that I kept putting across to them every single day and we managed to achieve what we did achieve."
Despite the poor preparations,nonexistent financial support and late arrival, the Nigeria's Olympic football team Captained by Mikel Obi, won the bronze medal at the Rio Olympics.
It turned out to be Nigeria's only medal at the games.