Youth national team, Flying Eagles coach, Paul Osahon Aigbogun has refrained from blaming any of his players for they loss to Mali in the Africa U-20 Cup of Nations semi-finals, as he says they did all they could.
Although many Nigerians are pointing accusing fingers at Valentine Ozornwafor and Aniekeme Okon for losing their kicks during the resultant shootout, following a 1-1 end to extra time, Aigbogun says they were only unfortunate not to carry the day.
The former Cape Town FC of South Africa, Warri Wolves of Delta State and Enyimba of Aba handler stressed that his lads gave the best they could during the encounter, but reckons Mali were luckier on the night.
Aigbogun, however, went on to congratulate Mali for their victory, which he submitted came from a very tough match between two rival sides that are very familiar with each other.
“It was a very difficult match against Mali and we fought as it should but unfortunately for us Mali won.
“We cannot say that something has not worked since the two teams were equal.
“We congratulate the Malian team for their victory and qualification,” Aigbogun concluded in the wake of Wednesday’s epic encounter in Niamey.
Mali’s coach, Mamoutou Kane admitted that luck was with his side in the crucny encounter, fopr which he gave thumbs up to Aigb ogun and the Flying Eagles for giving his wards a tough fight.
He acknowledged that it was a tough and exhausting game mentally and physically, but said he could not celebrate much, as he had already done a lot of it after his team qualified for the FIFA U-20 World Cup by beating Ghana in their last group match.
Kane concluded: “Luck was with us so congratulations and courage to the Nigerian coach. It was a very exhausting match in the head and the belly.
“This is football and I could not express my joy like the others because for me what was to be celebrated is the match against Ghana.”