thumbnail Hello,

The Super Eagles coach says it was important to try to calm his players ahead of their World Cup play-off second leg with Ethiopia, but was thrilled to secure qualification

Stephen Keshi admitted that Nigeria were badly affected by nerves as they sealed their place in the 2014 World Cup with a play-off victory over Ethiopia.

The Super Eagles ran out 2-0 winners in the play-off second leg in Calabar, with a Victor Moses penalty and a second-half free kick from Victor Obinna enough to claim a 4-1 aggregate win.

However, despite expressing his delight at qualification, Keshi admitted that his team did not deliver a particularly inspiring performance as they were far to anxious before the game.

"The first thing was to make sure we qualified," the 51-year-old was quoted as saying by Kickoff Nigeria.

"In today's game I don't mind that we played badly as long as we qualified. We have other games where we can play beautiful football.

"There was a lot of anxiety around the players. I had to calm them down and make sure their state of mind was intact, but I knew it was going to be a little difficult for them to focus.

"I remember the same thing happened to us in Algeria in 1993 with players not being able to eat because they were so anxious. We had to try to make sure we got them to calm down a bit."

Keshi, who captained the Super Eagles during their first World Cup appearance in 1994, has led his team through an unbeaten qualifying campaign as well as an Africa Cup of Nations victory in 2013 and was keen to hail his players for their efforts in the past year.

"It was a very big battle," the former Anderlecht defender said.

"And that's why I thank the players, because a lot of sacrifices went into this. Whatever came out today, as long as we qualify, and our flag is flying in Brazil, I will take it."

Nigeria are now through to their fifth World Cup finals and will be looking to make the knock-out stages for the first time since France 1998.

Related

From the web