Coach Manu Garba on Thursday said the Flying Eagles have learnt a lot from the FIFA Under-20 World Cup in New Zealand, after crashing out in the Round of 16.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the Nigerian side lost 0-1 to Germany in their Round of 16 clash in Christchurch on Thursday to exit the competition.
However, Garba who is the team’s Head Coach said the whole competition had been a big lesson to the team, especially in not losing concentration when it mattered.
“I believe that our players learnt a lot from this game and a big lesson in general from the tournament.
“The level at the under-20s is far higher than at the under-17s, and Germany are a very tough and highly tactical team.
“Our players lost concentration at the crucial moment and this gave the Germans a chance to score,’’ he said at the post-match news conference.
The coach nonetheless praised goalkeeper Joshua Enaholo, saying he played a great game.
“He may have saved that ball (which resulted in the game’s lone goal) if he had a clear view, but there is nothing we can do now,’’ he said.
Garba was however not singling out the goalkeeper for praise, saying “all my players have been in great form and I am proud of them all.’’
Looking back at the competition as a whole, the Nigerian coach said there had been so many unexpected results at the tournament, and one could never predict the winner.
Speaking also, the coach of Germany, Frank Wormuth, said he admired the Nigerian side, especially as they were very good technically, which makes them extremely difficult to play against.
He however said his team was able to keep the ball under pressure and it was their only chance to break through the Nigerian defence.
“In the end, I give congratulations to my team for finding the answer to the problems Nigeria posed us. They deserved the win and I am very impressed with them.
“I am especially proud of my team’s defence today (Thursday),’’ the coach said.
On their next opponents, Wormuth exuded confidence in the abilities of his team to advance to the semi-finals.
“Of course our aim is to get to the final in Auckland. But to get there we must go step to step and our next step is Mali. The German mentality is to always think this way.
“I expect Mali to play in quite a similar way to what we saw today (Thursday) from Nigeria,’’ he said.
NAN reports that Germany will in the quarter-finals on Sunday in Christchurch take on Mali, who had earlier beaten fellow Africans Ghana in the Round of 16.