U23 Eagles coach Samson Siasia, in this interview with Completesportsnigeria.com's SAB OSUJI in Brazzaville, admits that his team didn't deserve to progress to the final of the men's football event of the 11th All Africa Games in view of their poor showing against Burkina Faso in the semi-finals. He identifies the a Dream Team's undoing in that match and explains the way foreward.
Coach, tell us what really went wrong that the U-23 Eagles lost 3-1 to Burkina Faso in the All Africa Games semi-final …
Well, the Burkinabes' tactics worked for them. They used long kicks, were physical, strong and fast. We couldn't defend against them. We made too many mistakes, by the defenders especially. You don't make such elementary mistakes and still expect to win. We did not play well at the back and going forward, we were unable to create enough chances. Under these situations, you cannot expect to just go out there and take the ball and score. We still have a long way to go. We just have to go back to the drawing board and see what we can do to get better. We never played this bad before, we don't know what really happened.
The Burkinabes defended in numbers and left two men upfield and always catching you on the break.
Yes, when you are a defender, once you see the ball coming up, the first and safest thing to do is to head the ball away. If you allow it to bounce it becomes a problem. We keep telling them this almost all the time. Just head the ball to the right or left, that's just it, nothing more.
But couldn't you have substituted the fumbling defender?
You can't just change somebody that has been playing there for quite long, no, it doesn't happen that way. Right now we have seen what our problems are, the next is for us to find how to fix it.
Yet the strikers too were wasteful in front of goal. Despite not being creative enough but the few chances that were created were as well wasted.
That's also part of the problem. Then the defenders did not know what to do; they did not defend well. I've not seen them play this bad before. Own goal, keeping unnecessary offside and even when we scored and were coming back into the game, they scored another goal (against us). It was a mess, a very big mess.
So after this, what next coach Siasia? Do we look out for an overhaul in the team as we count down to the CAF U-23 Championship in Senegal?
We'll see. You know because we have players based in Europe but their clubs won't let them come. When we get to the group stage of the competition, will you invite players that won't come?. But all the same we will have to try and see what we can do to make sure that we qualified. This is an eye opener, we didn't do a good job.
Based on what has happened tonight, what will be your response to it when the team return home? Are you going to haul them into camp or release them for a while?
Well, for now, I wouldn't know. We have to get back home first. Then I'll need to speak with the Federation (NFF) and the National Sports Commission. Maybe we may ask for like two weeks break, to allow what has happened to sink in and then take a look at the areas we should improve on. Our attack was slow, not fast to the ball, areas like long balls like this (against Burkina Faso) should be addressed.
You look disappointed coach. What was your target coming to the 2015 AAG?
We came here for the gold medal. But the way we played today, I don't think we deserved any medal, our play was miserable, we didn't deserve to win anything. The Burkinabes played better and I doff my cap for them. Any long kick is theirs. I don't know when we started playing off side. As a defender you have to watch, you don't just rush out trying to keep offside .
Despite qualifying for the semi-final by a toss of the coin, the Burkinabes are now in the final, how do you fancy their chances? Do you see them winning the gold mefal at the expense of Senegal?
I don't know, actually I don't know, yes they qualified by toss of the coin but today they played us hands down.
The Dream Team will confront hosts, Congo Brazzaville in the third place match. How do Siasia intend to approach it?
Well, we'll go out there, do our best to get something to go back home because we won't like to go home empty-handed.
Best of luck coach. It's been nice talking with you.
You are welcome.