Libya coach Adel Amrouche caused quite the stir during the post match press conference following his side’s 0-0 draw with South Africa in Durban. Amrouche had accused Nigeria of believing only in Juju.
Libya NT coach Adel Amrouche says he prefers to play Nigeria than South Africa.
South Africa have top players, but Nigeria believes in juju. Also he's ready to play Nigeria twice in Nigeria (instead of home & away)@NGSuperEagles you have been challenged. [? via @YesWeCrann] pic.twitter.com/Jq4qB6LiZz
— Deji Faremi (@deejayfaremi) September 8, 2018
However the former Kenya coach who has experienced playing against the Nigeria Super Eagles many times says that he was only joking. In an exclusive interview with www.ACLSports.com he says “I was only joking, my brother. How can I say (believe) Nigeria relies on juju? Please tell me does Ahmed Musa need juju to play football?”
The comment has not gone down well in the hierarchy of Nigeria football clearly and it has surprised Amrouche. “The Nigerian federation president has called my federation president over this and I am genuinely surprised. It was nothing serious at all. I respect Nigeria’s football a lot and Stephen Keshi, God Bless his soul, was a brother and best friend to me.”
Libya sit top of Group E ahead of South Africa and Nigeria are in 3rd place but only a point separates the three countries. In October is a double header between Nigeria and Libya so perhaps this was a mind games from Amrouche.
Libya have still not been allowed by CAF/FIFA to play matches at home. “As a football person I would rather be playing matches in Nigeria because of the passion of the crowd and the fact that the stadium will be full” Amrouche says with regards to his comment about not minding playing both legs of the double header in Nigeria. He starts to hum the typical Nigeria Football Supporters Club song over the phone line to buttress his point. “We know and love the tunes of the Nigeria football fans, in Durban the stadium was empty and I know it would not be so when we play Nigeria.”
How have his players responded to not playing matches at home. “I tell them that football is simple everywhere with 11 players on each side and the same playing field for all on it at the time. Only thing changed now is that we don’t have VAR yet” Amrouche says. “It is what it is and we have to just concentrate on playing football wherever we have to play. I am happy with the commitment of the players to the cause”.
Intent on proving that he respects Nigeria Amrouche says “I like to have fun and I make jokes a lot but I am genuinely sorry for any offence I have caused with the comments. I like Wizkid and Davido a lot and please how can anyone even think Kanu (Nwankwo) and Jay Jay (Okocha) relied on juju for football? I certainly don’t think so.”
Adel Amrouche is clearly a man who likes to joke. He is also very widely travelled across Africa he seems genuinely surprised that this joke has not gone down well. He is also genuinely sorry.
Only problem is Nigerians have long memories. Only six points over Amrouche’s Libya might make Nigerians forgive and forget this.