How can you describe the 2019 AFCON?
With the expansion of the competition from 16 teams to 24, it afforded all the best teams to be part of the championship.
For me I will say it was a very good tournament. There were many surprises also; you put a team as the favourite only for them to lose against a weaker team, like we saw in the Morocco game against Benin Republic.
We also saw how the home team and big favourites Egypt lost to a team that finished third from the other group, South Africa.
A lot of surprises were here; it was not easy for big teams to show that they were the best, by the round of 16 three favourites were out already, Morocco, Egypt and Cameroon.
You can’t come in here without being fit. We don’t have time to keep you fit, so we need those who already are fit to fall into our plans. With this performance in AFCON, these players should get new clubs; they have worked hard for it, and they deserve it
Your team won the bronze medal against Tunisia, but it was a disappointing result for Nigerians; what’s the future for this team?
The future is very bright; we have young players who can still progress and can still improve.
There’s a very good spirit in the team; they learnt a lot in the World Cup and here in the AFCON. If this team can improve in specific positions, let’s say in the next two years, the team can be the AFCON winners.
The draws for the qualifiers for the next edition in 2021 was done in Egypt while the draws for the World Cup qualifiers is just around the corner; how do you plan to manage your players considering that some of them will not be available again for selection?
First thing for me is to be sure if I will be continuing with the team or not. If yes, then I already have plans of what to do and do together as a team.
I see which positions we must find other players. Our offensive department is good, it’s young. We have to find other midfielders also.
Our three midfielders played all the matches. Mikel Obi was injured in the end and I’m not sure if he will continue.
Then we have to find new defensive midfielders. John Ogu is one of them but then he didn’t play so much because he was exhausted playing in his club and friendlies.
But here he played only 45 minutes against Madagascar and we saw that he needs competition like other players such as Leon Balogun and Francis Uzoho who are not playing in their clubs.
We need players who are playing in their clubs all year long.
So what are your plans for the upcoming qualifiers?
The players have to play in good clubs; they have to do a lot of work, some of them should find better clubs now.
This concerns players like Moses Simon, Etebo and of course Uzoho who is still young; he can still improve. They have to start looking for better teams and it is not my job to do that for them.
I am not their agent, I can’t promote them, but they need to play all through the year to deserve places in this team.
You can’t come in here without being fit. We don’t have time to keep you fit, so we need those who already are fit to fall into our plans.
With this performance in AFCON, these players should get new clubs; they have worked hard for it, and they deserve it. They have good character, they are young and they are fresh and agile.
When a coach is calm there is also the possibility that the players are also calm. There won’t be so much of nervous attitude or red cards, you can see that we didn’t get any red card
You have faced criticisms from the fans; what’s your take on this?
I usually laugh because I have got the nerves. When I was a player, I didn’t like coaches who were too aggressive.
I think a player needs a coach who is relaxed, cool and also a fighter like we are. When a coach is calm there is also the possibility that the players are also calm.
There won’t be so much of nervous attitude or red cards, you can see that we didn’t get any red card. I think we had one suspension from Chigozie Awaziem.
We help the player to be calm and concentrate on their work. I don’t expect to be friends to everybody but I earn my respect. Life is too short, you need to smile.