U-23 Eagles midfielder, Usman Mohammed, tells Completesportsnigeria.com's ADEBOYE AMOSU that the side expect a tough battle against Egypt in their second Group B game at Africa U-23 Cup of Nations in Senegal on Wednesday…
Congratulations on your side's victory against Mali, how important was the win against the Malians?
It was an important three points for us. We know the importance of starting on a positive note and we went all out to get a good result.
Losing the game would have made things difficult for us as we still have to face Egypt and Algeria, two tough opponents in our group.
You guys dominated the game in the first half and scored three goals, but you fizzled out in the second half, what was responsible for that?
To be honest with you, I don't know how to explain what happened in the second half of that game against Mali. Like you said, things went well for us in the first half, but we couldn't sustain the tempo in the second half.
Thank God we were able to pull through at the end of the day. It's a big lesson for us and we will avoid making such mistakes in subsequent games.
In football, you get punished for little mistakes particularly in a big competition like this.
Coach Samson Siasia must have been disappointed with your second half display?
Sure, he wasn't happy but he has demanded that we improve on our performance in the next game.
He is a coach who never shies away from expressing his mind and as players we love him and are always willing to give our best for him.
We know we must improve as a team if we want to go far in the competition and pick the ticket to Rio 2016 Olympics.
Football is a game of 90 minutes and not 45 minutes. The coach has demanded for an improvement and we will respond in the next game.
Your next game is against Egypt on Wednesday, how confident is the entire team of overcoming the North Africans?
We are expecting a tough game, but not tougher than the one against the Malians. We saw them play in their first game against Algeria and we know what to expect from them.
The fact that they drew their first game will make them to be more dangerous as they know they cannot afford to lose against us.
If we beat them, then we can start thinking of probably the last four.
Every team here is determined to go to the Olympics which makes it important to take every game seriously. Like the coach said to us before the start of the tournament, every game in this competition is like a final.
Having seen the other teams in action, how confident are you guys of making it to the Olympics?
For me, there is no small team in this competition. You can attest to that with the quality of play so far. We have the best eight teams on the continent at this level here in Senegal.
Any team willing to make it to Rio must be ready to give over one hundred percent in each game.
How motivated is the team to do well in this competition, talking about financial rewards from the Nigeria Football Federation?
I don't want to talk about that. My job is to play football and do the nation proud, not to talk about money issue.
But coach Siasia made some complaints few weeks back concerning salaries and other entitlements that were yet to be paid?
I'm not the right person to answer this question. The only thing we are thinking about at the moment is to pick the ticket and nothing more.
Everyone is looking forward to the next game against Egypt and making Nigerians happy by coming out with a win.
On a final note, will you be satisfied to see the team pick the Olympics ticket or win the competition?
Our main target is to qualify for the Olympics. But we want to take it one step at a time.
We have done well by winning the first game. If we beat Egypt, then we can start talking about the semi-finals. The next thing then is to make it to the final where we are certain we will play in Rio 2016.
It will be a good thing to win the competition, but we can only think about after that after picking the ticket.