Keshi urges his team to brace for ‘war’ in Abidjan

The national team coach says that the return leg against the Elephants will be tough as the team began training in Abuja on Tuesday morning

Nigeria coach Stephen Keshi has asked for total concentration from his players ahead of their final African Nations Championships (CHAN) qualifier against Cote D’Ivoire in Abidjan on July 27. He noted that the match will be like war against their West African neighbours.

Nigeria won the first leg in Kaduna 4-1 and need to avoid defeat by more than three goals in order to qualify for their first participation in the competition that will hold in South Africa next year.

The team commenced training on Tuesday at the artificial pitch of the Fifa Goal Project site in Abuja with 23 players as Sunshine Stars captain Godfrey Oboabona was exempted due to his exertions at club. It was reported last week that the defender suffered a slight injury when he was mobbed by fans in Owo during training.

Keshi, who started his foreign career in Cote D’ Ivoire, told the players the Ivorians are passionate about football and they will do anything to defeat Nigeria, hence the need to forget the 4-1 win in Kaduna and concentrate on the return leg.

“The win in Kaduna is history and if you have been following the media you will see that they have been making remarks that they can also beat us well. We must be ready for their antics and forget the past,” said Keshi.

The team is training at the Goal Project because the Ivorians had already informed CAF that the return leg will be played on artificial turf.

On Monday evening, defender Elderson Echejile of FC Braga was at the team’s Bolton White Apartments abode to wish his mates and the coaching crew a good outing in Abidjan. Echejile came in at dinner time and went straight to see Keshi, before spending some time with most of his mates.

“It’s to encourage them to excel when they play the Ivorians and I believe they can defeat them right there in Abdjan,” he said.