Lagos, Nigeria - Ahead of Saturday's kick-off of the 2013 African Youth Championship (AYC) in Algeria, Coach John Obuh of defending champion Nigeria has listed his two targets: to retain the title and also qualify for the FIFA Under-20 World Cup in Turkey in June.
'We’re the defending champions and so we wish to retain the trophy we won two years ago in South Africa. But first and foremost, we as a team have agreed that we first have to qualify for the World Cup in Turkey by going past the group stage after which we will look to defend our championship,' he said in an interview published Friday by online MTNfootball.com.
Nigeria is in group B of the Under-20 tournament with Gabon, DR Congo and Mali, and will open its title defence against fellow West African Mali on Sunday
Obuh said while he is conversant with Mali, he knows little about the other opponents.
He said, however: 'My philosophy has always been to prepare my team for the challenges ahead rather than focus on what the other team is about.'
On the team's preparation, the coach said he was satisfied with it, especially the friendly matches played in Egypt and Tunisia.
He also said the cold weather during the 16-30 March tournament would not affect his players, adding: 'We, for one, have played in this kind of weather for at least three weeks and I’m informed that the weather in Tunisia is even a lot colder than what we should
expect in Algeria. The cold won’t affect my team and I don’t expect it to affect any of the other teams because they have been very much aware of this.'