Keshi anticipates Ivorian mind games in CHAN cracker

The Super Eagles coach tells Goal that his players must be mentally prepared for their trip to Abidjan where they will face the wounded Elephants

Nigeria coach Stephen Keshi has told Goal that no antics from hosts Cote d’Ivoire would stop his team from finishing the good job they started when they play their second leg Africa Nations Championship (CHAN) qualifier in Abidjan next weekend.

The Super Eagles 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 ever CHAN tournament that will be held in South Africa next year.

The trainer anticipates a hectic time in Abidjan and has demanded his players to have tough mental preparation for the game.

 “It’s not just Cote D’Ivoire, it’s an Africa [thing]. When you play in Africa it’s very difficult, right from the dressing room they make you go crazy and on the field of play the fans, the supporters, they drive you nuts. You just have to keep your cool and focus. If we can do that and I think they can do it, then we will pull through,” Keshi told Goal.

“We have been talking [about the expected antics and hostilities in Abidjan] because it is going to be a character game and the mentality of every player is going to be highly tested there because they will come to intimidate them and make them go crazy and we just have to remain calm and play our game.

“As far as we can have that inner calm and focus on the game, then we should be good,” he said.

Keshi also dismissed the Ivorians’ claims that they were destabilized after the referee gave two red cards to their players and submitted this aided Eagles’ 4-1 comprehensive victory in the match.

 “That is just a flimsy excuse. I think most of you watched the match. So when did they give them the red card? He is just trying to look for something as an excuse,” Keshi said.

Nigeria have never qualified for this tournament that is open to only players based in domestic leagues in their home country.