By James Agberebi:
Photo by Ganiyu Yusuf:
Flying Eagles coach Emmanuel Amuneke has blamed his players for losing to Sudan in the second leg of the 2017 U-20 Africa Cup of Nations qualifier in Lagos on Saturday.
The Flying Eagles lost 4-3 to 10-man Sudan side, 5-5 on aggregate, thereby losing out on the away goals rule.
Reacting on the outcome of the game, Amuneke expressed his disappointment that the team will not be able to defend the title their predecessors won in 2015.
"We are all disappointed," Amuneke told Completesportsnigeria.com. "The truth of the matter is that we were not able to qualify for the U-20 AFCON in Zambia. "Everybody is disappointed, players are disappointed, personally I'm disappointed because a lot of fans came today to see the team but unfortunately, the team was not in a position to make them happy. We all are sad but life has to move on, this is football.
"Since we came back from Sudan I've been saying it that it wouldn't be an easy game because in the first leg we were aware that they are a very good side. They came here with the mindset to win and unfortunately for us we conceded some goals that shouldn't have happened. The goalkeeper (Akpan Udoh) today was not at his best but of course he is somebody that has served the nation and won a World Cup for us.
"For me it is a collective issue, the team today was not in their best. Even when we were ahead, we were not able to manage the game to our own advantage. We conceded some easy goals that should not to have happened. But like I said, it's football, we assume the responsibility and we have to look forward."
He added:"The federation know what they have to do. We could not make it so we must tell ourselves the truth. We have played a lot of games, we have won away and at home. But today, the god of soccer said it wouldn't be possible for us today.
"But of course these players are young and good players. All we can hope is for them to develop in their career and continue to grow so that they will be useful to the nation when the time comes."