Basile Erariki, head coach of crestfallen junior Red Devils of Congo Brazzaville at the CAF Under-17 Championship in Morocco, has predicted a possible Nigeria versus Cote d’Ivoire final after his team was dumped out of the competition on Saturday. Congo finished third behind the two West African teams in Group B on two points after drawing 1–1 against Cote d’Ivoire and Ghana before receiving a 7–0 beaten from Nigeria on Saturday.
Speaking at the post-match conference at the Grande Stade de Marrakech, Erariki rated Group B over Group A that had host, Morocco, Tunisia, Gabon and Botswana. “I agree that our group was the most difficult,” he explained. “Any of the four teams in the group is good and you can see that the semi-finalists did not emerge here until today.” He added. “Either Ghana, Nigeria, Cote d’Ivoire or Congo could have qualified easily in the other group, but there is nothing we can do about that again.
If Nigeria and Cote d’Ivoire play the semi-finals the way they played us, they can end up being in the finals.” The post-match conference was nearly turned to a comedy of errors when a Congolese journalist suggested that the Golden Eaglets deliberately lost to Cote d’Ivoire in order to edge out his country. “We came here to win all our matches and you could see that my players were crying after we lost to Cote d’Ivoire,” Coach Manu Garba (MFR) fired back at the journalists’ faux pas.
“Before that game, we have not lost any match for over one year; you could see that we were so pained after that setback.” In a related development, Hon. Dalhatu Sidi Mamman, Sokoto State Commissioner for Sports, who saw the Golden Eaglets crushed Congo, has equally tipped the team to go all the way. “I’m quite impressed with the performance of the Golden Eaglets against Congo,” he said. “I was quite happy with the way they responded against Congo after their loss to Cote d’Ivoire earlier and I believe they have the capacity to go all the way.”