Imama Amapakabo has attributed Nigeria’s failure to qualify for the 2020 Championships for African Nations (CHAN) to the “perfect will” of God.
Amapakabo’s team of home-based players beat Togo 2-0 at the Agege Stadium on Saturday courtesy of striker Sikiru Alimi’s brace but having lost 4-1 in the first leg in Lome, crashed out 4-3 on aggregate.
Nigeria had dominated the encounter and missed several gilt-edged chances to score the decisive third goal that would have guaranteed their passage to the tournament in Cameroon.
Addressing the press after the game which had 10 added minutes in the second half, the former Rangers International coach pointed to his team’s dominance for the entirety of the encounter and suggested that their inability to fashion a breakthrough was orchestrated by divinely ordained forces.
“I’ll say we gave it our all but unfortunately our all not good enough,” Amapakabo said. “We played a game, ninety-plus minutes they never had a shot at our goal, we got them where we wanted them, unfortunately, I always say in my life let God’s perfect will be done and today, God’s perfect will has been done.”
The result brings renewed scrutiny on Imama Amapakabo who has not quite convinced in his role as head coach of the U23 and the home-based national team having superintended over a series of disastrous results in the past few weeks.
However, with the CHAN being solely for players competing in their domestic leagues, Amapakabo was denied the luxury of foreign-based players for the encounters against Togo and drew a maelstrom of criticism when he attempted to blame his players for the 4-1 loss in the first leg, telling a radio station that his players were incapable of understanding and interpreting tactics.
He then put a further dent on his reputation when he lost to the same Togo team at the WAFU Nations Cup in what was a desperately disappointing outing for his team who crashed out after losing to Cape Verde on penalties.
With more criticism likely to be directed his way following the ouster to Togo, Amapakabo insists that he remains impervious to critics who question his fitness to continue in his role as head coach of both national teams.
“I don’t have a problem with anybody’s opinion who are critics, I am myself biggest critic, the onus and challenge I put on myself is on myself and not on anybody.”