Akaele Philippe, a former volleyball player from Congo, was imported by Ivory Coast Volleyball Federation to coach the women team ahead of the Fivb qualifying tournament. He had this interview with our correspondent on site, shortly after his team lost to Nigeria.
ACLSports.com: After losing your first game to Ghana 3-1 how did prepare against Nigeria?
Akaele Philippe: We knew it wasn’t going to be easy because Nigeria are a more experienced team. I told my girls that they had nothing to lose that they must play without fear and make sure we ended the competition honourably even if we did not win.
ACLSports.com: And was that objective met?
Akaele Philippe: Yes. You saw the game. You saw how we controlled the first set and made Nigeria panic. That was what I was looking for. Unfortunately, we lost it with a narrow margin 24-26.
ACLSports.com: And then Nigeria took matters into their hands as from the second set. How would you explain that?
Akaele Philippe: Like I told you, Nigeria are a big team. They know how to react when the tide is rough. However, I really like how my team played. They showed encouraging progress. But, I can say we still lack basic fundamentals as a team.
ACLSports.com: You had the poorest score in the second set, losing 12-25. Was it due to fatigue?
Akaele Philippe: No, not fatigue. I don’t think so. They were becoming intimidated by the resurgence of Nigeria and lost focus. You saw the nasty errors we were committing. That didn’t happen in the first set.
ACLSports.com: But hope came back in the third set when you even led Nigeria in points some time.
Akaele Philippe: Yes. I told them it was the final round and if they lose we have lost the match and you saw their performance. It was awesome but Nigeria took over and sealed it at 20-25.
ACLSports.com: Officials from other teams keep complaining of inadequate sponsorship from their governments to help improve the sport in their respective countries. What is your situation?
Akaele Philippe: I can say Ivory Coast is faring better than others, but the sport still requires more investment and awareness to bring more young people on board.