Nigeria coach Imama Amapakabo has refuted claims suggesting his team underrated Togo in Sunday’s first leg, second-round qualifying match of the 2020 African Nations Championship (Chan).
The Sparrow Hawks hit the home-based Super Eagles 4-1 in Lome to put themselves in pole position to qualify for the Chan tournament scheduled for Cameroon next year.
Sunusi Ibrahim gave Nigeria the lead in the 8th minute before the Togolese trio of Richard Nane (16' and 67'); Tchakei Marouf (75'); and Agoro Ashraf (90+2') completed the comeback for the hosts.
While Amapakabo insists his team never underrated the Togolese, he, however, admits the reality that there is a huge job to be done in the return leg.
“No, we never underrated our opponents. That would have been a foolish thing to do in football,” Imama said in a press statement released by the Nigeria Football Federation.
“The truth is that we fielded mainly a young team that could not really live up to expectations technically compared to the senior players in the Togolese side who have gained experience over the years.
“However, we have taken this as a learning curve moving forward and awaiting the return match.”
Imama who has found himself in this similar situation with the Nigeria U23s remains bullish his team still has a chance of pulling through.
“It is wrong to think that this match would determine which team goes through. We know there is a second match and no two games can ever be the same,” he continued.
“From now until October 19, it is still quite some time away to make amends and produce the right form for the work ahead.
“It is after the match in Nigeria that it can become clear who qualifies.”