When Niger coach Harouna Doula takes to the pitch on Friday, January 20 in Menas first Group E tie against Congo, he will effectively join a unique group of coaches to have been in charge at three editions of the TotalEnergies CHAN.
Known for his calmness and father-like tendencies on the sidelines, Doula is visibly excited about this new opportunity to showcase Nigerien football to the world.
“CHAN is the real competition for African players because it has players that play at home in their championship so for me to be here with Niger again, I am very excited about this opportunity and I am looking forward to our first game,” said Doula passionately.
For the next edition in a row, the two sides will face each other in the same group except this time, it will be against a familiar face.
Against Jean Elie Ngoya Obackas, Doula will be up against his former university classmate with whom he studied with in Germany in 2005.
“I know my young brother Ngoya. We had the opportunity to attend a training in Germany. I have so much respect for him. Tomorrow, we will be playing against each other. He has always considered me as a big brother and it will be an opportunity to show and meet once again like in the old days,” said Doula.
Despite the friendly words from both coaches, on the pitch, it will be serious business. For Niger, victory will be a perfect way to start their campaign but against Congo, they face a side that has already lost 1-0 to Cameroon and will come out to through everything at the pitch in what wil be their only hope to progress from the group.
Doula said that, “We spent two weeks in Tunisia playing friendly games and preparing for this tournament. It might not be the same team that we faced two years ago in Cameroon, but we are ready for this game.”
“We want to do our best to win this battle, but we want to achieve the win in order to move to the next stage. This is the spirit with which we shall be tackling this game before we meet Cameroon. We have prepared the players. We rely on how prepared the players are psychologically. We will play in a tactical way, and we will be more organized and efficient as possible,” Doula told the media in detail.
Doula, a veteran and celebrated coach in Niger football remembered for qualifying Niger to their first ever CHAN in 2011 and AFCON in 2012, is a man after a new challenge. He now wants to take Niger to the final in Algiers on February 4 but first, the Menas must overcome Congo to stand any such chance.
Niger captain and central defender Boureima Katkore added his voice to that of his coach and said, “We have prepared very well for this game. We know that it will not be easy. We are playing against a team that has already lost a game that will do their best against us and so will we have to be focused throughout the game.”
Niger will be without Razak Seyni who is nursing an injury while dependable striker Boubacar Goumey who was playing for ASN Nigelec in the local league in Niger signed for a team in Iraq therefore rendering him ineligible for CHAN.
*Credit:. CAF Media.