No Giving Up: Nigeria’s U-23 Coach Vows



Imama Amapakabo defended his position as Nigeria’s U-23s coach after the team missed out on a chance to compete in the 2020 Tokyo Olympic Games football tournament.

Africa’s most successful side at the Games, Nigeria went out of the U-23 Africa Cup of Nations on Friday with questions raised about Amapakabo’s future following the country’s poor results under his watch.

The Super Eagles B side failed to qualify for the 2020 African Nations Championship (CHAN) and his team also suffered an embarrassing early exit at the regional Wafu Cup tournament in October.

“We were unlucky and unfortunate to go out because we gave everything, but it’s totally out of my hands,” he said.

“I know that, as a coach, you come under pressure. We have to look at the future – this [Olympic hopes] has ended, whichever way we want to look at it.”

Amapakabo was handed the managerial role of Nigeria’s under-23 side and its team for locally-based players on a permanent basis in September – after the football authority (NFF) decided against reinstating Salisu Yusuf.

He was second assistant to Nigeria’s senior team’s coach Gernot Rohr at the 2018 World Cup in Russia and worked with Yusuf as Nigeria finished runners-up at last year’s African Nations Championship (CHAN) in Morocco.

Amapakabo is aware that his position has become untenable following his recent failure, but said that it is up to his employers to make a decision on his future.

“I can’t say anything now because it all depends on what the federation wants in terms of going forward.” he added.

Nigeria – bronze medallists at Rio 2016 – won the 1996 Olympic football tournament and are the first African country to complete an Olympic medal sweep having won a sliver medal in Beijing in 2008.

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