The coach of Nigeria's national U-23 team, Imama Amapakabo, believes his team was “unlucky” and “unfortunate” at the ongoing AFCON U-23 championship.
The Olympic Eagles crashed out of the competition, currently being played in Egypt after their 0-0 draw against South Africa, which was enough to help them progress from the group stages.
The Nigerian team lost its opening game against West African neighbours, Ivory Coast, by 1-0 but was able to shake off that defeat to win 3-1 against Zambia in their next game.
They needed a win in the final game to guarantee them a place in the semi-finals but despite their best efforts, they couldn't break down the South African defence which held them to a stalemate.
Ivory Coast and South Africa nicked the two qualifying spots in their group, automatically ruling Nigeria out of the 2020 Tokyo Olympics football event.
The overall performance of the team at the tournament has prompted many to call for Imama’s sack.
But the former Enugu Rangers boss, who also failed to succeed in the WAFU Cup nor qualify for the CHAN 2020, concedes that his fate was not in his hands.
“It is totally out of my hands. We have to look at the future; this has ended, whichever way we want to look at it,” Imama said in a chat with Brila.
“And it depends on what the federation wants in terms of going forward.”
In a separate interview with the BBC, Imama cited ill-luck as the major reason why they couldn't make it to the next round in Egypt.
“We were unlucky and unfortunate to go out because we gave everything, but it’s totally out of my hands, ” the 50-year-old said.
“I know that, as a coach, you come under pressure. We have to look at the future – this [Olympic hopes] has ended, whichever way we want to look at it.”