Nigeria U23 team, the Dream Team VI, have, from an unlikely source, been given extra incentive to triumph at this summer’s Olympics in Rio where they’re set to take on Denmark in the quarterfinals.
The Samson Siasia-led lads wont only become national heroes should they repeat the feat of 1996 where the original Dream Team stunned the world to claim gold at the Atlanta games, they’ll also come into sizeable fortune as a benefactor has promised a bonus of $30,000 to each player should they clinch gold in Brazil.
World renowned Japanese plastic surgeon Katsuya Takasu made known his desire to reward the team after hearing about their financial plight, adding a further $20,000 for silver and $10,000 for bronze.
“I read about the financial problems affecting the team and I felt the need to make a big contribution,” Takasu told BBC Sport.
“I am not doing this for media attention but to motivate a team with an indomitable spirit. I fell in love with the Nigerian team because despite all these problems they are in the quarter-finals of the Olympics.
“Whether they win or not, I will still donate something to help alleviate the challenges in paying their bonuses and allowances.”
While the Nigeria Football Federation (NFF) appreciated the gesture:
“I have been in direct contact with Mr Takasu and impressed by his gesture,” NFF vice-president Seyi Akinwunmi told BBC Sport.
“But we need not get carried away because the integrity of the country is at stake.
“First we must check about this. Significantly, the team has an important game and we need to focus on that.”
It’s been a rough ride to Rio for the Nigerian team, arriving for their opening game barely hours to kickoff, and missing a number of training days over pay disputes.
In spite of the challenges, they remain in the competition and are hours away from a semifinal appearance.