Nigeria coach Manu Garba talks about his team’s chances at the 19th edition of the Orange CAF U-20 Championship Senegal 2015. Garba says his charges are “ready for business” ahead of their opening match against hosts Senegal on Sunday at the Leopold Sedar Senghor Stadium in Dakar.
Below are excerpts of his interview with ahead of the tournament opener; How are you preparing for your first game against hosts Senegal at the tournament?
Manu Garba: The first match is as important as the final. Like they always say, a journey of 1000-miles begins with one step. So winning will help us go all the way. When you lose, it becomes a bit of a struggle in the remaining games.
Does playing the host nation come with pressure?
We are very confident. We won’t underrate any opponent. We will do all it takes to achieve our target. We are a team with a good record as far as first matches at major tournaments are concerned. At the African U-17 Championship in Morocco in 2013, we beat Ghana 6-1 in the opening match. Later, at the FIFA U-17 World Cup in the United Arab Emirates (UAE), we beat Mexico 6-1 in the opening match as well. The first match is what matters at the moment.
Are you bothered by the absence of key players such as Kelechi Iheanaco and Isaac Success for the tournament?
Isaac Success was not released by his club, Granada who are fighting relegation in the Spanish La Liga. Kelechi Iheanacho is not fully fit since he just recovered from an injury. Musah Yahaya also suffered an injury during our training camp in Ghana. We are not bothered by their absence.
How much do you know of the Senegal team?
Honestly, I don’t know anything about them. We have the players that can force out any result. We are here for business. We have bulk of the squad that won the FIFA U-17 World Cup in United Arab Emirates (UAE) last year. We have an enterprising squad that can all the way and win the tournament.