Imama Shifts Focus to Building Strong U-23 Squad

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Imama Amapakabo

Home-based Eagles Head Coach, Imama Amapakabo, still pained by the 2-1 loss to Togo on Sunday, is hopeful that the greater goal of building a quality U23 side for Nigeria would not be lost. Nigeria lost to Togo in Thies, Senegal in their first match of the 2019 WAFU Cup billed to end October 13.

It was a second loss for the mixed team of senior and junior players within a week.

Amapakabo said in Thies on Sunday night that much as they had desired to win the major trophy in Senegal, he is determined to ensure that the bigger plan of developing a squad of quality players is achieved.

“We lost the game against Togo but the team showed the capacity to win. As you may not know, this is largely our U23 team needing exposure.

“When players at that level play a competition like this they are bound to make mistakes. The first half was not up to the level we desired because there were some errors but we returned in the second half a lot much better creating many scoring chances.

“As a coach I like to take responsibilities. It is my job to make the team create quality scoring chances which they did. It’s a pity the goals didn’t come off such opportunities and we lost. Teams come to competitions to win. We also like to win every match we play but we are also mindful of the greater objective of this team. Our greater job is to build a virile young team with a competition like this. We want a team of high quality that can serve us for the U23 competitions and also develop well enough to transit to the senior national team.”

On Sunday the Eagles had greater control of proceedings on the pitch against the Sparrow Hawks but failed to convert several scoring chances.

Nigeria will play their next match on Saturday against the loser of the game between Cote d’Ivoire and Cape Verde. The teams were billed to play by 8pm local time on Monday. The Eagles dropped down to losers’ competition after the loss to Togo.