By James Agberebi (pix: Ganiyu Yusuf) at Eko Atlantic Beach Lagos:
Nigeria Super Sand Eagles coach, Asamu Ejoor, is optimistic his team will qualify for the semi-finals of the 2016 Beach Soccer AFCON despite losing to Cote d'Ivoire on penalties in their match-day 2 game on Wednesday, Completesportsnigeria.com reports.
The Sand Eagles suffered their first loss of the tournament after going down 3-1 on penalties against the Ivorians in a very tough game.
Reacting after the game, Ejoor said his team lost due to hard luck. He expressed firm confidence that they will bounce back against Ghana.
"We were unlucky against Cote d'Ivoire," Ejoor told Completesportsnigeria.com.
"Now Cote d'Ivoire have four points, we have three points. The group is still open and I am confident we will qualify by the grace of God. What my players need is encouragement."
Ejoor added: "We didn't believe we will lose to Cote d'Ivoire, but the fact that the two finalists will qualify for next year's World Cup in Bahamas is enough motivation for my player."
Commenting ahead of Thursday's must win game against Ghana, Ejoor stressed that the Sand Eagles' impressive record against their West African rivals will be to their advantage.
"Looking at the game against Ghana who just like Egypt, have not beaten us since 2006, with our experience, we will beat Ghana.
"The Egyptians whom we beat are more technical than the Ghanaians. So it wouldn't be a problem for us. There will be a difference on Thursday I'm sure of that."
And on conceding a last minute goal against the Ivorians which sent the game into extra time and his team's poor performance in the penalty shootout, Ejoor said: " My players lost concentration when they were just few seconds away from winning the game. We will correct those lapses. Everyday we learn so we have learnt a valuable lesson in that aspect."
"We trained for penalties but the problem was that most of the players were scared to go and play. The thought was that they don't want to let the country down.
" It's good that things happened this way, at least we now know those who have the heart to take penalties. "