Obuh downplays pressure
12 August 2011
Nigeria U20 coach John Obuh has played down talk of growing pressure going into Sunday’s quarterfinal against European champions France.
Expectations are running high back home in Nigeria as the Flying Eagles stayed on track for an historic U20 World Cup triumph with a lone goal win over England Wednesday.
A high-powered government delegation led by the country’s sports minister is expected in Cali in time for Sunday’s showdown against the French.
“There is no amount of pressure that can put me off my work,” insisted Obuh, whose team are the only one from Africa to reach the last eight of Colombia 2011.
“Good enough the power of any coach is his results and so far we have been achieving it here in Colombia.”
He added: “I cannot afford to lose my head because of any pressure.”
The 51-year-old Obuh revealed that he handles the stress that goes with the job by talking to his family and friends as well as listening to gospel music.
“I call my wife, family, my pastor as well as friends who are very important in my life and who always reassure me every time,” said the coach who led Nigeria to the final of the 2009 U17 World Cup and is here in Colombia with nine players from that team.
“I also play a lot of gospel music which talks about God’s love and care for all. The lyrics and beats calm me.”
Obuh has also made a fashion statement with the Colombian hat he wore as his Flying Eagles stopped England in the second round of the U20 World Cup.
“That was my own way of saying thank you to the good people of Armenia who supported us in all our matches there,” he said.
“I also love to do something differently and to put on my Sunday best for a game because the pitch is my church.”
Obuh expressed surprise that Africa’s three other representatives, Cameroon, Egypt and Mali, failed to reach the knockout stage of Colombia 2011.
“The African Youth Championship, which we won, was keenly contested and so I expected the other teams to be good enough to express themselves very well at the World Cup. But unfortunately that was not to be,” he said.
“Now we will continue to improve at this tournament so that we could bring back the cup to Africa.”