Super Eagles assistant coach Imama Amapakabo has revealed that his side are well equipped to tackle Algeria and surmount the stylistic differences in play the North Africans will bring to the 2019 Africa Cup of Nations semi-final clash with Nigeria later today.
Algeria represents the first North African opposition for the Super Eagles in the tournament thus far with the Eagles having already faced opposition from West, South, Central and East Africa in their quest for a fourth AFCON title.
And ahead of today’s semi-final at the Cairo International Stadium, Amapakabo says although Algeria will present a different set of qualities to previous opponents, Nigeria’s backroom staff have fully assessed the Desert Foxes and have come up with a tactical plan which will help the players adapt and ultimately defeat their foes from North Africa.
“We’ve been able to study how they play like we believe they’ve also studied how we play,” Amapakabo told busybuddiesng.com in an exclusive chat just ahead of today’s semi-final.
“Africa is so large that culturally, every part of Africa has a way that they want to play. No two zones are alike in terms of cultural play, but then I think the North Africans have their own style which we are going to try to approach.
“Algeria is in front of us, they’re our major concerns right now and let us keep our fingers crossed. We know that as technical crew, we are almost getting there, in dotting our ‘I’s and crossing our ‘T’s and we believe that come Sunday we will be able to get it correct.”
Algeria have been very impressive in getting to a first AFCON semi-final since 2010, winning their first four games without conceding a goal and only getting breached in the quarter-final penalty shootout win over 2015 AFCON champions Ivory Coast which ended 1-1 after extra time.
Yet despite their impressive showing in Egypt so far, there are some who believe the Desert Foxes represent an easier tie than Ivory Coast would have been for Nigeria.
But Amapakabo who also doubles as the head coach of the national U23 men’s team says at this stage of the competition, the identity of the opposition is immaterial for any team looking to win the title.
“There’s a point you get to in a competition, I think, if you want to be a champion you should be ready to meet any other team,” the Nigeria Professional Football League (NPFL) winning coach with Enugu Rangers told busybuddiesng.com.
“At the point we have got to, we believe completely that we didn’t want to think about who was coming, our business was completely for us to qualify. You can’t be champions without beating the best so we believe that Sunday is not going to be different.”