Sorry SA, says Niger defender

2011-10-22 19:31

Niger and Platinum Stars ­defender Mohamed Chikoto has extended his sympathy to South Africans for failing to qualify for next year’s ­Africa Cup of Nations finals in Gabon and Equatorial Guinea.

“There is sorry (sic) in football and you will qualify next time,” said the former Sahel Sporting Club ­defender in broken English.

Chikoto could not hide his excitement after Niger booked their maiden appearance at the continental contest’s finals. He said Niger football will never be the same after their feat.

Despite losing 3-0 in their last game to Egypt, Niger booked a place at the finals by virtue of having better head-to-head results than South Africa and Sierra Leone. The three countries finished on nine points apiece.

The 22-year-old defender had words of comfort for the South Africans however, saying they should not lose hope and adding that it was Niger’s time. He is looking forward to rubbing shoulders with the best in African football.

Chikoto said he had never experienced anything like what followed the news of their ­qualification.

“We were not aware we had made it until our president told us when we got back to our hotel. It was as if we had just won the World Cup as we celebrated throughout the night,” ­reminisced Chikoto.

What followed their arrival in Niamey was even more spectacular and they were completely taken by surprise, he said. “We went to all the big cities celebrating our achievement, which is why I say our football will never be the same.”

All that is history now as Chikoto begins a new life in South Africa. As he starts his career with Stars, he aims to inflict more pain on Kaizer Chiefs’ Bafana stars this afternoon. He is likely to debut in the Telkom game at Royal Bafokeng.

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