After all initial hiccups suffered by the Kenyan team upon their arrival in Lagos, Coach Adel Amrouche gives this exclusive interview at the Kenyan camp in Calabar.
Coach, we welcome you to Nigeria and to Calabar specifically, and pray you have settled in nicely.
Coach : Thank you very much. Calabar is an absolutely gorgeous city and the people here have been nothing but gracious hosts. And though there were slight snags here as well, we have settled in quite well.
More snags? How come?
Well, for instance, we were not provided enough hotel rooms, and they tried to bunk two players in one bed -- which is against all rules specified by both CAF and FIFA, and that was very disappointing. Only the quick thinking of the hotel manger prevented the unfolding of another horrible situation.
Needless to say our profuse apologies. Other than that how have your players reacted to the weather, humidity and the pitch at the stadium? Any fear of intimidation tomorrow when you face a packed house and Nigeria's notorious rabid fans?
I already scouted Calabar before I came, and we were aware what the conditions would be like. These, of course, could change by game time. But we are comfortable and the pitch is playable. I am blessed with amazing athletes who could perform anywhere in the world. As for intimidation, that's only for weak teams, and mine is not. As for your fans -- we know them. I even know the Up Supa trumpet melody [starts humming the melody]. But we are raring to go!
Do you take any solace from the fact that no AFCON champion has won her first game after lifting the trophy?
Like today's weather, it's an inconsequential stat. All we are happy about is that we are being tested by the African champion. I could not ask for a better start.
Before you grabbed the whistle in Kenya, you have also coached in the Congo and Burundi. How different, if at all, is the relationship between you and the KFF?
Well, we have just started, but I must say it has been good. Nevertheless, in Africa it's not so much the Federation that pulls the strings, it's the Government and it's their involvement that we really need. With the elections in Kenya now over, we are hoping that the new political managers will buy into our dream and support it. We need a chemistry like Nigeria has.
Yes, Nigeria. The relationship between coach, staff and players is excellent. Keshi has done an amazing job. What is wrong in Nigeria are the actual managers of the Federation. It's sad because three or four people are responsible for tarnishing the image of the country by being inept and not doing their jobs properly. Why strand us at the Airport for 3 hours? Why secure a stadium for us where if we go, most of our time will be spent in a traffic jam and we would accomplish nothing? We all are Africans and should be fair to each other. Some of players being here for the first time will now walk away with a bad perception of Nigeria, and that's bad for everybody.
You have inherited a team you virtually don't know. Nevertheless, based on what you have seen so far, do you have athletes that can take Kenya to next level?
Yes. I just need time. Like Keshi, I am rebuilding and now realize what an amazing feat he just accomplished by wining AFCON with his 'work in progress'. In Kenya, we are blessed with great weather that produces just as great athletes. All we need is time and that people buy into our philosophy.
Coach, thank you again for taking time out from your busy schedule to speak with us. And while we wish you and your team all the best, could you give us a prediction on what will occur tomorrow?
Both teams will sweat.