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Ecstatic after making a positive start to their maiden campaign at the FIFA U-17 World Cup, debutants Niger would look to make a mark despite the presence of heavyweights such as Brazil and Spain in Group D, said team coach Ismalia Tiemoko.
“We are very happy to win the game. This was our first match in the World Cup. This is the first time we are attending the tournament like this. So the whole country is happy with today’s performance,” said Tiemoko after Niger eked out a 1-0 win over North Korea on Saturday.
Asked about the challenges his team would face from experienced teams like Brazil and Spain in Group D, Tiemoko said: “Brazil and Spain are sports countries. But as we are dealing with the lower category U-17, I think that our team has a word to say.
“Brazil, Spain may be the senior teams but here, we think that the game is still open for everybody. More or less it’s equal because we had never attended such a tournament and we beat Nigeria (in the continental qualifiers) who are the current world champions.”
Talking about the weather and conditions here, Tiemoko said: “It is true that it is hot in our country but it is not the same type of weather because here it is hot and humid which is different in our country. It is not the same climate.
The coach said his U-17 team is the future of Niger football and they will look for glory when they host the 2019 African Cup of nation for U-20.
“As you know our country is organising 2019 African Cup of nation for U-20. So this team is the future of Niger football. The sports federation will keep them together and they will work together until that date,” he said.
North Korean team coach Yong Su Kim rued the opportunities wasted by his players. “There were so many goal scoring chances for the team but couldn’t make it. We conceded one goal, not happy about it. Now I will do my best for the next matches,” he said.
Kim also said that injuries to his boys are a concern. “There are injuries. We will try our best for the recovery before the next match,” he said.
“They are a strong team. Our team is not that weak. Anyway we will do our best for the next matches,” the coach added.