Nigeria assistant coach Salisu Yusuf believes the Super Eagles can overcome 2018 CHAN hosts Morocco in Sunday’s final to win the tournament exclusively for African players plying their trade in their countries for the first time.
The Eagles have not won the tournament since its inception in Ivory Coast in 2009, and their best performance at the tournament came when the late Stephen Keshi guided them to a third-place finish at the 2014 edition in South Africa.
Nigeria reached their first final in the championship following their 1-0 semifinal defeat of Sudan in Marrakesh on Wednesday – after Morocco beat their North African rivals Libya 3-1 in the first semifinal in Casablanca on the same day.
And Salisu, who is in charge of the CHAN assignment, on Thursday expressed his excitement at the prospect of making history as the first manager to win tournament.
The former Kano Pillars manager admits the Eagles struggled a lot against Sudan, but praised his troops for their doggedness in the encounter.
“It was really hard for both sides,” the former Enyimba coach told cafonline.com in a post-match press conference.
“They (Sudan) pushed us to the wall especially after the red card.
“We tried to go on the counterattack and make the defence compact so as not to give spaces for them at the back.”
Salisu added, “They had some good moments but we defeated them in the end. For the game against Morocco, every team is beatable. If we do the right things, why not! We can beat Morocco.”
Scorer of the only goal in the Sudan clash Gabriel Okechukwu credited his teammates for his goal.
He said, “I’m excited that we won. It was a collective effort not just that of one man. Kudos to the whole team. It was not an easy game but in the end, we emerged victorious.The victory means a lot to get to this stage.”
The team’s first-choice goalkeeper Ikechukwu Ezenwa was forced off after colliding with Mohamed Hashim – and was replaced by Ajiboye Oladele.
Okechukwu said, “I felt bad when Ikechukwu Ezenwa was injured because for a player to get injured whilst playing is not a good feeling.
“However, I did not panic because I knew the substitute (Ajiboye) was equal to the task.”
Sunday’s final kicks off at Stade Mohamed V in Casablanca at 8pm.
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