Hamidou: Our worst fears happened
12 February 2019 12:12
Following the completion of group matches at the ongoing 21st edition of the Total U-20 Africa Cup of Nations in Niger where Senegal, South Africa, Nigeria and Mali booked their places at the semifinals and the FIFA U-20 World Cup in Poland Cafonline caught up with the president of Niger Football Federation (FENIFOOT), Colonel Major Djibrilla Hima Hamidou.
The hosts will not be involved in the business end of the tournament after finishing third in Group A with two points as Nigeria and South Africa secured the two semifinals places.
Colonel Major Djibrilla Hima Hamidou is the vice-president of the Local Organising Committee of the tournament and also serves as president of WAFU Zone B.
The interview centered on the organization of the tournament, the shocking first round elimination of the hosts Niger amongst others.
CAFonline.com: The group stage is done. Are you satisfied with the practical organization of this competition?
Colonel-Major Djibrilla Hima Hamidou: Apart from the concern we had in Maradi (the lighting problem), we can say that we are satisfied with what is happening. Listening to the CAF Administration, they expressed the same to us daily with the progress of the matches and the setbacks that were corrected.
People are pleasantly surprised because in general when it comes to youth competitions the stadiums are not filled but during this tournament the stadiums are always filled by the supporters, and CAF appreciates it.
What was your biggest fear on the eve of the tournament?
What we feared was unfortunately what happened with the premature elimination of our national team. But we have to manage the situation since we’re here to build a team for future. We’re not going to stop working because of the elimination of Mena. There are many other competitions in future and we hope that these young players will improve to make the senior national and be successful.
What were your objectives in hosting this tournament?
Winning the trophy was a dream for us but the goal was to qualify to the FIFA U-20 World Cup in Poland. However, this would allow us to continue our policy of training these young players to promote Nigerien football.
When we qualify for tournaments of this pedigree we are usually accompanied by the policy and partners but it will be lacking when it does not work and the only way to attract sponsors is to have results.
Do you as president have any explanation for the premature exit?
It is often said that defeat is an orphan since nobody would want to assume such responsibility. For me it's a global responsibility.
We can agree that the players were under a lot of pressure because playing at home in a full stadium and Nigeriens demanding for results. We did not really recognize the team compared to when it was doing good during the preparation phases and gave us a lot of hope. We missed the chance in the first match (against South Africa) because they could have been free if the team had taken all three points.
Are we going to capacity crowds in the remaining matches despite the exit of Niger?
Generally this is what happens when the host country is eliminated. But we can reassure without swearing on anything that this will not be the case in Niger.
The Seyni Kountché Stadium where the semis, third place and final will be played will continue to welcome the beautiful fans. We are not saying that the stadium will be packed but Nigeriens have taken ownership of this competition and will not hesitate to come to the stadium.
How do you want people to remember from this 21st edition of the Total U-20 Africa Cup of Nations in Niger?
I want people to appreciate the Nigerien hospitality, not only to welcome guests but to organize a successful tournament. We also take with us lessons for the future.
Hamidou: Our worst fears happened
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