Olympics: Samson Siasia understands Alex Iwobi's absence in Rio

Arsenal's Alex Iwobi
Alex Iwobi has scored two goals in 21 appearances for English Premier League side Arsenal

Nigeria's under-23 coach Samson Siasia says he understands why Arsenal have blocked Alex Iwobi from playing for his country at the Rio Olympics.

The 20-year-old was named in the 35-man provisional squad last week having expressed his desire to play in Brazil.

With the football due to start on 3 August it would mean Iwobi missing the start of the Premier League season.

"I've no problem with a boy I love like a son for missing out," Siasia told BBC Sport from the USA.

"I think some people in the media just love to sensationalise and fabricate stuff."

Nigeria's fixtures in Rio:
4 August: v Japan (Manaus)
7 August: v Sweden (Manaus)
10 August: v Colombia (Sao Paulo)

Siasia says Iwobi, who secured a first team spot for Arsenal towards the end of the season, may have had his Olympics dreams shattered but must look on the brighter side.

"He's a smart, passionate, enthusiastic and dedicated boy but the fact that it's not a Fifa tournament Arsenal are within their rights to stop him,"

"Alex has a chance to establish himself in the Arsenal first team and if he could manage that this season then it will outweigh the potential gold medal.

"His father [Chuka Iwobi] has made strong efforts, the boy has done his bit as well to be with us but Arsenal pays his wages and makes the calls.

"His progress and success at club level will only benefit Nigeria ahead of the World Cup qualifiers, I want people to lay off Alex and rally support for the team in Rio.

Alex Iwobi's agent Emeka Obasi admits the player would have benefited immensely from his involvement in this summer's Olympics but there will be another chance in the future.

"We held talks with Arsenal to see if it would be possible but in the end the decision has been made and we just have to move on from it," Obasi told BBC Sport.

"Of course I think Alex would have gained a lot from a competition where the likes of Barcelona's Neymar want to play in. I'm sure the standard will be high and as I said Alex was keen to go, but it's not his decision to make.

"I'm sure there will be another opportunity to represent Nigeria at the Olympics in future."

Nigeria, who have been drawn in Group B of the Rio Games alongside Sweden, Colombia and Japan, boast a proud Olympics record.

They made Olympic football history in 1996 by becoming the first African team to win the gold medal.

Nigeria also finished runners-up at the 2008 Beijing Olympics, where current Under-23 coach Siasia also led the 'Dream Team' in China.

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