Ivory Coast stunned defending champions Nigeria 1-0 in their 2019 Africa U23 Cup of Nations (U23AFCON) opening game in Egypt on Friday to sit atop of Group B, with coach Ibrahim Kamara hoping to build on the “inspiring” success across the two-week tournament.
Left-back Silas Gnaka of Belgian side K.A.S. Eupen handed the junior Elephants the victory through a penalty in the 71 minute, as the Olympic Eagles were reduced to 10 men following the expulsion of Olisah Harold Ndah.
“Defeating Nigeria was like a trophy on its own because they are the title holders and we know their huge pedigree in junior competitions,” Karama told www.ACLSports.com on Sunday.
“I believe that win will open doors for us in the competition and we hope to build on that inspiration. Many teams are scared of Nigeria and so if you can bring them down you automatically become the formidable side.
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“However, it doesn’t make the road easier. There are tough teams ahead and we need to work hard and remain ambitious,” he said.
Kamara, who doubles as coach of Ivory Coast senior national team, sees no advantage of it in the junior competition.
“Being a head coach of a senior team does not make you the best coach amongst other coaches here. This tournament is quite different from senior competitions.”
Ivory Coast will play next South Africa while Nigeria will take on Zambia.