Under-23 national team, Olympic Eagles coach, Imama Amapakabo has disclosed that the biggest satisfaction he has from his squad is that the players always play to his instructions. Speaking in the wake of his side’s stunning 5-0 spanking of Sudan at Stephen Keshi Stadium, Asaba, which took them to this year’s African U-23 Cup of Nations in a massive 5-1 aggregate win, the former youth international goalkeeper, who is also an assistant coach of the senior squad, Super Eagles as well as former handler of Enugu Rangers and El-Kanemi Warriors, said the next tart is to win the continental tile in Egypt and qualify for the 2020 Olympic Games in Tokyo, Japan. He spoke at length in this interview with SCORENIGERIA …..
SCORENIGERIA: Congratulations coach Imama Amapakabo. A resounding victory for your team, 5-0 it ended in favour of your team, what is your general assessment of the match?
IMAMA: Good game. I am impressed with the outcome of the match, and with the way the players were able to interpret our tactics and formations. Kudos to them, they answered big, they were patient, they attacked when the openings came, and I think it was not just about the goals, but about the beautiful football they played also.
Coach, you started six home-based players and five foreign-based players, where did that confidence emanate from seeing that you had lost the first leg? Many were thinking you would parade nine, ten foreign-based players. Sunusi Mohammed, Ndifreke Effiong, Adamu Abubakar, John Lazarus, Olisah Ndah, Ebube Duru. All these players are based at home.
I’ve had these players in camp for three weeks now, so, most of them understand my philosophy and I think I am trying to build a team that the country can be proud of in terms of play and I am glad that they are improving by the day from the first time we started.
When we started, it was a challenge because most of them didn’t understand what we wanted to do. Most of them weren’t having match fitness, but gradually, almost a month down the line they have kept responding. Not just them, I have a whole team in camp and they are all responding.
CHAN qualifiers beckons, a week from now, how do you intend to go about it, I mean, will you be retaining this set of players?
Certainly, they are part of the plan. What you saw in Asaba is a reflection of what you are going to be seeing if I am given the opportunity to lead the team. Let’s wait and see how it goes.
Well, congratulations once more on this resounding victory. The last time Nigeria won 5-0 was years ago in fact April 3, 1994. It’s really been a long time we won an official match with that margin. How do you feel about this?
Most importantly, we are thankful to God, He made everything possible, without Him, nothing would have been happened and also, kudos to the boys, they had four training sessions, they understood what was expected of them and what we are seeing is the result today. Like I have always told them, success is a process and they are beginning to understand that and it’s really working out.
Ndifreke Effiong celebrates his goal vs Sudan Photo by Kabiru Abubakar
Lastly, why has it been you have won big at home, 4-0 against Libya and now 5-0 against the Sudanese, but you also lost both away games?
Simple – I had my foreign legion come on the eve of the games so most times I have to field them on the day of the game without having training sessions with them, but when we come back home, we have about four training sessions with them and when we get going, they blend with the home-based boys and you could see the understanding in their play, different from what we had when we go away.
Most of them were caught in transit during the Libya game. They couldn’t meet up, while for Sudan, most of them arrived the night of our departure, so we didn’t have time to work as a unit. We had the opportunity to work together and they were able to interpret the tactics we wanted them to play.
Thank you so much for speaking with us .
The pleasure is all mine.