Interview By David Meshioye & Adeboye Amosu in Kigali:
Congratulations coach, on your team's victory against Niger. Your players started the game slowly and were a bit tensed up. What was responsible for this?
You are right. In the first half we were very poor. We didn't do things right and failed to play to our strength. We had a gameplan which we did not follow and it reflected in our overall performance on the pitch.
To be fair on the players, it was the first big tournament some of them will be participating in and it affected their performance in the first 45 minute.
l was once a player myself and know what it is when you play in tournament of this nature, for the first time. But I think towards the end of the first half, I mean the last 15 minutes, we improved a little bit and continued from there after the break.
Your players came out like wounded lions in the second half and
scored four good goals, what did the magic? Did you tell them anything special during the break?
(Long laughter). What I told the players, I wouldn't want to reveal to anyone. One thing that was clear before the break was that the players were not expressing themselves well on the pitch.
We knew they were better than that and it was up to them to show the world what they were capale of.
We made some changes which also make the team better and stronger. I would not want to go beyond that. Let me keep the rest to myself (long laughter).
Your first choice centre-back and vice-captain, Austin Obaroakpo missed the game due to injury and you took off Jamiu Alimi early in the game, and his replacement Kalu Orji impressed along withStephen Eze? Are you going to stick with the pairing in he next game?
The beauty of this team is that we have two quality players in each position and it was visible in the game against Niger. At the moment, I cannot say if Austin is going to come back in the next game or not.
We have a couple of days to train before the next game against Tunisia and we will determine who plays on the basis of the players' performance in training.
Talking about Jamiu, he is a good defender. We will talk to him and help him get back to his best.
Chisom Chikatara came into the game and scored a hat-trick, how would you describe his performance?
We are happy for him. He is a good lad who has a bright future ahead of him. We hope he keeps improving and score more goals in the competition.
The other substitutes (Kalu Orji and Usman) did well too. All the players were determined to start the competition on a positive note and I want to congratulate them for the victory.
You have tried to tone down the pressure on your players concerning Nigeriann' expectations in this competition by saying you are
trying to build a team for the future. Now that you have started with this impressive victory, should fans back home start believing that you will win the trophy?
I know in my country we don't know anything about friendly games. We want to win every game no matter who we are playing against, even if it is the so called minnows or big footballing nations like Brazil or Argentina.
The average age of the players in this team is around 22, and from the onset, I made it clear I wanted to build the team from the scratch. That is what we have been doing and I strongly believe we are on the right track.
At the moment, it won't be right for me to say we are going to lift the trophy just after one game. We still have a long way to go and we take it one game at a time.
On a final note, how are you looking forward to the next group game against Tunisia?
|Right now, I don't want to talk about that. What is important now is for us to savour this victory and rest a little bit, then we can start thinking about the next game.|