Niger coach Harouna Doula has applauded his players following their remarkable 1-0 victory against Cameroon in their last Group E at the TotalEnergies African Nations Championship (CHAN) 2022 on Tuesday.
Doula’s side finished as Group E table leaders on a cold night in Oran that saw thousands of Nigerien fans living in Algeria providing the necessary support to boost them throughout the game.
“I am happy and joyful. It proves that our hard work has paid off. We are in the fight to improve our football level and be among the great footballing nations in Africa. I believe that from our side, we prepared well for this match. From the field and at the hotel. We watched so many videos. I am happy with my players,” revealed Doula to the media at the post-match press conference.
He continued and added that, “We needed to push them to make mistakes and to take advantage of that. We were patient knowing that we needed to play the match to win. The most important thing was that we do not concede goals. We have qualified. The players deserve the win. They deserve to play the quarterfinals.”
On his side’s ability to focus throughout the game, Doula explained that, “We changed our setup by defending very well and to deny them from coming a few meters within the goal. They could not reach deep into our box. We forced them to play from the wings in order to close any available path to the goal. We know that it is a team that uses the wings so we had to close that down.
“I believe that this strategy had an impact on their failure to come close to our goal. On the other end, we were dominated by the Cameroonian defenders so we have to work on this to be more efficient in order to create more opportunities to score more goals. We were organized and patient. We knew that we shall eventually get a chance and we did so I am happy that we have progressed.”
Doula who was the first coach to qualify Niger to the CHAN in 2011 and Africa Cup of Nations in 2012 has said that Niger is working towards producing results like this against top football nations consistently and to promote Nigerien football.
“This result is good for Africa. It cannot always be the same teams winning all the time. I believe there are no longer smaller countries. We are working very hard. Look at teams like Mauritania, Madagascar and now Niger that are improving everyday. They are working hard and progressing,” Doula noted with great pride.
Niger will face Ghana in the last quarter-final on 28 January at the Miloud Hadefi Stadium in Oran at 1900GMT.