Coach Stephen Keshi was visibly buoyed by his team’s 3-1 win over Venezuela on Wednesday night at the Marlin Park in Miami.
Keshi said and showed as much during the post-match conference where he expressed pleasure at the performance of his players especially the newcomers to the team.
“But look at that goal by Nosa [Igiebor], it was a television goal and I was excited when it came,” Keshi said.
“It shows we can do great things if we psyche ourselves up very well. At half time, I told them, put the ball on the ground and play quick and the goals will come and I was not surprised that once they did that the goals started to come.
“Like I will always say, it is still work in progress and we can only get better,” he added.
Keshi also had special words for debutants – Newcastle’s Shola Ameobi, who Bright Dike, who was called in from the MLS.
“Shola [Ameobi] was awesome the moment he got into the pitch. He showed his experience in the game and even when he was provoked his calmness was amazing.
“He was talking to the other players on what to do at a time we were under pressure and he was resilient, we sure need his experience for big tournaments.
“Look at the way and manner he shielded the ball, evaded being brought down before passing to Onazi for our third goal, Shola is a special player,” the coach concluded.
Keshi also praised Dike saying the power playing forward has a future with the national team.
“He’s quick, aggressive and always coming back to defend and it was difficult for anyone to say this was the first time he was playing for Nigeria.
“I’m so happy that Bright [Dike] did not disappoint and we will see when camp opens what he can do for the team.
But he noted and gave reasons why the defence was often overwhelmed.
“Azubuike Egwueke was suffering from back pains and we just asked him to hang on and he did very well, otherwise every other person in the defence line was very good.”
On a last note, the coach said it was now just a matter of time before the Super Eagles return to their exalted position in Africa and in world football.
“Let us all join hands to return the game to the height that it was when we were playing, no matter the grouse we may have,” he concluded.