by Ifreke Inyang
Samson Siasia says his team deserves all the criticisms they have been getting since Saturday. The Nigerian senior side will not be at next year’s Africa Cup of Nations, after they conceded a late goal to draw the match against Guinea. The game ended 2-2 and the Syli Stars qualified as group winners.
“We deserve all the insults we are getting,” Siasia declared. “In the end, we failed to qualify and that hurt the fans, so they have a right to be angry.”
“We are also hurt, because as much as the fans wanted to see us at the Nations Cup, it pains us more than it pains them. We have young players who were looking forward to their first Nations Cup. We have experienced ones who wanted to return there to challenge again. We have found it hard to sleep because everyone is thinking about what happened.”
Irrespective of the failure to qualify for the continental fiesta, Siasia says the team has made good progress under him. “In the few months we have been here, the team has grown younger, we are tactically stronger, we play the ball quicker than before, we create more than 7 chances in every game and we have not failed to score more than two goals. Except for the friendly against Argentina.”
“So this team is doing well. It was just a communication problem at the end. We thought we were going through at 2-1, but we were not sure if that was enough, and we didn’t want to take any chances that’s why we were pushing. Otherwise, we could have held on at 2-1.”
Some of the fan abuse have included calls for Siasia to be sacked. But his future remains uncertain, and not even he has an idea what decision the NFF will take. “It is not in my hands now. Whatever the NFF decide, we will accept. If they want us to stay, we will carry on rebuilding this team in the right way,” he admitted. “If they don’t, we will say thank you and move on. That is the way football works.”
Nigeria will play Ghana on Tuesday in London. The coach is determined to start making amends against their arch rivals. “We have to put what happened behind us. There is nothing we can do about it. We just have to learn from our mistakes and make sure we play a good game and win against Ghana.”