‘Mauritania will have their word in the U-20 AFCON’
Cameroonian Mauril Mesack Njoya was appointed as coach of the U-20 Mauritania national team last December to replace Malian Baye Ba.
After a successful spell with Mauritania’s flagship club FC Nouadhibou, Njoya was given the tough mission less than three months away from hosting the Total U-20 Africa Cup of Nations, yet he believes his team can go far in the competition despite having a short time to prepare.
CAFOnline.com: Taking the position less than 3 months of the U-20 AFCON, did you consider that a risk?
Njoya: Yes, I replaced one of the best coaches on the continent (Baye Ba), but the job of a coach is always linked with some risk. You can win titles and be sacked afterwards. When you coach a team it’s always a risk.
Did you have enough time to prepare this team?
I was recruited to continue a job that my predecessor had started three years ago. It’s a project that started with the creation of this team that has gone through several tournaments. I found a well-prepared team, and I must pay tribute to my predecessor Ba who did a good job. We continued what he started to build a winning team before the U-20 AFCON.
What are the goals you set for this U-20 AFCON?
Our objective is to have good performance for this group to continue growing. We are building a team to become an asset for the senior national team.
How did you prepare your young team for this tournament, the first big football event that Mauritania hosts?
This is a team that we have been preparing for three years. I believe this is a dream opportunity for Mauritanian footballers and we prepared for this event in a very good way. Now we ask the whole nation to support these junior players.
How was the preparation done?
We prepared on two levels. Our technical department studied players in the national championship, and we had our eyes on abroad players in France, Turkey and academies in Senegal. I am not saying we are to win this U-20 AFCON, but Mauritania will have their word.
This is Mauritania’s first participation in the U-20 AFCON. What are the expectations?
Yes, it will be our debut participation. Our goal is to go as far as possible.