WAFU Cup: Aremu rues Mali draw in group opener


Super Eagles B team midfielder Afeez Aremu says they are “disappointed” following Thursday’s goalless draw against Mali in the 2017 WAFU Cup Group A matchday one fixture.

Nigeria and Mali booked their places in the group stages of the tournament after edging out Sierra Leone and Mauritania respectively in the knockout round.

Both countries failed to record a win in the opening game in Group A at the Cape Coast Stadium in a highly contested game.

Nigeria made three changes with Lekan Adeleye, Ubong Friday and Okechukwu Gabriel all starting the game, while Mali started with the same team that defeated Mauritania.

Chances were created at both halves but none of the teams could break the deadlock even after 90 minutes. Mali finished the game with a better possession of 55% compared to Nigeria’s 45%.

Lassana Samake of Mali was named the ‘Man Of The Match’ for his impressive performance as both sides shared the spoils.

“We were able to shake off the fatigue after the victory against Sierra Leone, we came into the game motivated,” said Aremu to Naijafootballplus.com after the game.

“We knew Mali won’t be easy, they scored three goals against Mauritania and had enough time together. I am a bit disappointed the game ended goalless after both teams scored five goals in the knockout round.

“The result has thrown the group open and we have to win the next two games to have a chance of progressing. We won’t bother ourselves much with the result between Ghana and Guinea, we need to concentrate on our next two games.

“We fought well and we wanted to pick the three points and kick start the group games with a win. A win today could have made things a bit easy, but we have thrown everything open, we have to fight more and progress.

The Akwa United midfielder quickly turned his attention to Nigeria’s second game in the ongoing tournament for Countries in West Africa.

Aremu added: “The next two games will be crucial and important, we have to stay focus and win the next game against Guinea. Our last group game will be against the host (Ghana), we have to avoid unnecessary pressure and win the next game in two days time.

“We will bounce back to winning ways, Mali was never a push over team, they have got a decent team. They are more tactically organize than the Sierra Leone team, we arrived the tournament late and we are still bonding well together as a team. Since the CHAN qualifier we had just few hours training together, but we will get better in the tournament.”

Meanwhile, Naijafootballplus.com correspondent Adepoju Tobi has arrived in Ghana for the coverage of the 2017 WAFU Cup.

Nigeria will take on Guinea on Saturday in matchday two of the ongoing WAFU Cup at the Cape Coast Stadium.

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