Nigeria Handball Men will be ready for Cameroon, says Coach Salami

Posted : 25 January 2024

The head coach of the Nigeria men’s handball team, Rafiu Salami, has showered praise on his players for overcoming Libya 31 to 24 goals at the ongoing 2024 African Senior Men’s Handball Nations Cup in Egypt on Wednesday.


The Golden Arrows had an impressive first-half lead of 14 to 10 goals despite being caged by the highly tactical Libya side.


Nigeria resumed the second half more brutally as they walloped Libya by a 6-goal margin (31 to 24).


Salami said that the team played with more confidence and dictated the pace of the game for Libya.


“The boys had a very great game against Libya despite not having good preparation. Their performance today shows that we had good preparations; Nigeria would have been the team to beat.


"The boys are getting used to the competition and having more confidence.


“If the team has good preparations before the next Nations Cup, they have the prospect and we can do something better.


“The game was good, Libya is a more technical side than Congo, less physical than the Congolese”.


The ex-international revealed that the Libyans put up a strategy of cutting off the Right Back position which resulted in a change in tactics for his side.


“The only thing I told the players in the first half was that we had chances but missed them because they were in too much of a hurry before we shot our ball.


“The Libyans put a strategy in place to sideline Obinna Anih and Faruk Yusuf in the game; that was why they were cutting our right side.


"I told them what to do and the moment they started executing the game plan, it became easier for us.


“When the Libyans equalized, I did not panic because I knew as long as the players stuck to the game plan, there was no way they could beat us.


“The boys are physically fit and there was nothing for me to worry about when the scoreline was 14 to 10 goals because I knew what we were doing was going to work out”.


Salami further said, “Before the match, I did not know much about the Libyans. My idea was to analyze the game and study then play because each team changes their pattern of play based on their opponent.


“I noticed the pattern of play the Libyans adopted in the first 10 minutes and I took some options which worked for us.


“I told the boys that we needed to be very disciplined with the ball and in the game against Libya, they made fewer mistakes and we were less in a hurry.


“The role of a coach is to put in tactical strategies against his opponents; the tactics adopted today were perfect, and the boys are listening to instructions more now”.


The former national team player said Nigeria will be ready to face Cameroon in the President’s Cup (9th to 10th placement match).


He added that the team will remain focused till they surpass their previous record set at the last Nations Cup.


“Nigeria is taking on Cameroon on Friday for the President’s Cup; they call it losers ‘ final. Nigeria were there before at the last Nations Cup. Cameroon is a very strong side much as physical as the Congolese; I am going to study their last match.


“I assure you that the boys are ready; we know this time we have to be more focused. The boys are improving, and I do not think Cameroon is going to be a problem for us but you cannot be too sure”.


Faruk Yusuf was adjudged the Most Valuable Player of the match. Nigeria will face Cameroon for the President’s Cup on Friday by 3 p.m.

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