We had too much respect for Italy, says Keshi

The Nigeria coach has asked his team to stay fit after playing their last game of the year in Monday’s draw against the Azzurri in London as they look forward to Brazil 2014

Nigeria coach Stephen Keshi has asked his team to go on break after playing their last game of the year in Monday’s international friendly against Italy in London.

The Super Eagles were held to a 2-2 draw by the Azzurri at Craven Cottage in a very interesting match that was filled with scoring opportunities for both sides.

It was Keshi’s last opportunity in the year to test his team after they secured their fifth World Cup ticket last weekend against Ethiopia in Calabar.

“Maybe, we had too much of respect for [Italy] but I’m sure if by chance we meet at the World Cup, we will put up a better performance,” Keshi was quoted by team media officer Ben Alaiya.

The coach also dismissed the boys for the year and urged them to stay fit and relevant at their clubs in order to ensure they can make the World Cup team to Brazil.

“It’s time to go back and work hard for your various club sides and stay healthy, because that will form the basis for invitation when we resume next year.

“The truth is that not everybody here will go to the World Cup, but that is how football goes, so those who want to be part of the team must remain fit and play regularly for their club sides,” Keshi said.

The Nigeria Football Federation is yet to announce next year’s calendar but Keshi will take charge of the local Super Eagles ahead of January’s African Nations Championship (CHAN) in South Africa.

Three players from the CHAN team started Monday’s friendly against Italy.