The Nigeria coach has praised the camaraderie among the players in the squad ahead of their trip to Liberia for this weekend’s clash against the Lone Stars
Nigeria coach Stephen Keshi has hailed the spirit in camp ahead of the Super Eagles’ 2013 Africa Cup of Nations qualifying game against Liberia on Saturday.
The West African giants face a massive test against the Lone Stars in Monrovia in order to determine if they will make it to South Africa in January.
Nigeria failed to qualify for the last tournament that was held in Gabon and Equatorial Guinea earlier in the year.
“The good thing about the present Super Eagles team is that they all know each other. They have been together so it’s only very little thing that I would bring in to cement them together and make a solid team,” said Keshi during the team’s media parley on Wednesday.
“They know each other, they have played with each other in the Nigerian league and they have been friends so now it is just to put the chemistry on the field together as well as the commitment level that yes we have to defend our nation.
“With what I saw [in training] yesterday, the oneness that exists in the team is good. We have stayed together since June which has really manifested. Yesterday I saw a great atmosphere on the field and in the dining hall when we were eating you could see that they know what we want. It is good.
“It is going to be a different ball game when we meet Liberia on Saturday unlike the last time we beat them in a friendly match. Each game has its own spirit, own day and this game against Liberia on Saturday is a different ball game, different spirit, different state of mind and we have to stay 100 percent as regards concentration to get what we want to get out there.
Keshi, who captained Nigerian national team to victory at Tunisia 94 as well as its maiden Wold Cup appearance, expressed delight at the prospect of leading the Super Eagles to the next Afcon as well as World Cup 2014.
“Leading this team to the Africa Nations Cup and World Cup means a great deal for me. I have played for this country, captained the national team for probably five or six finals in the Africa Cup of Nations.
“So it is a dream and it would be a dream true that I will take Nigeria to the Nations Cup and I will do very tangible work for Nigeria and of course to make Nigerians happy.
“I keep hearing 1994 squad, but it took a very long time to assemble that team. So we need to be patient. That 1994 squad will come back.
“I don’t think there is any coach in the world that will come out and say yes I would win outright. I don’t think there is any, not even Jose Mourinho [of Real Madrid]. So all I can tell you is that we are going out there to perform.
When asked if he fails to achieve his mission, would he think of resigning? Keshi responded that “If it gets to that point, why not?
On the call by President Goodluck Jonathan charging the team to beat the Lone Stars in Monrovia on Saturday, the former Mali Coach said it was a normal call which should not put any undue pressure on the team.
“There is no pressure, it is about motivating the team. The Director General of National Sports Commission (NSC) Chief Patrick Ekeji was in our hotel camp to also motivate the team. So it is a good sign to see our big ogas in our camp, it is good,” he said.