The Super Eagles trainer has certified that his squad is in good shape ahead of Tuesday’s must win game against the Walya Antelopes in Rustenburg
Casting aside rumours about the security of his job, Keshi assured all his country men and women that the Super Eagles will perform creditably in order to qualify for the quarter finals.
“We’ve been working very hard and talking to one another. The spirit is high in camp and I like what I’m seeing in my players,” said Keshi at a press conference at the Royal Bafokeng Stadium.
“[The fans] just have to be patient, it’s going to be okay tomorrow. We’ve been a bit unlucky in the two games that we’ve played so far.
“The only thing I can tell Nigerian fans is that they don’t need to be worried, the boys are okay. They should just pray that there’ll be no injuries for the kids, so that they can come out and do their best tomorrow,” he said.
In both of the team’s previous matches, they have conceded late, something that has become a bother going into the game against Ethiopia. However, Keshi remains guarded.
“I don’t think there is any coach or any team that walks on to the pitch and wants to go home defeated – everybody wants to win.
“I’ve talked to my players, we’ve talked together and whatever we have to do is within us,” he said.
On his impending opponents the Walya Antelopes, Keshi admitted that he didn’t know much about them until he saw their first two games at the Afcon.
Said he: “Honestly speaking, the first time I saw [Ethiopia play] was against Zambia and then against Burkina Faso. I think they’re a wonderful side, they play beautiful football. It’s a team that likes to keep ball possession, plays with a lot of confidence.”
On the disciplinary front, Nigeria have a mountain of cards – five yellows and one red – that could affect them if they win their game and Zambia also defeat Burkina Faso on Tuesday. If both teams are tied on points and goals difference, an option is to check the fair play status of both teams. Keshi said that his team has not deserved all the cautions received in the two games so far.
“I’m not sure if all the yellow cards that were given were properly called out, because I’m not the referee. If the video can show it, they will probably take some cards back because they were not proper calls.
“It has happened, we just have to be conscious of what is out there. We just have to concentrate and play our game tomorrow,” Keshi said.
Nigeria will play Ethiopia for a chance to qualify for the quarter finals of the Afcon on Tuesday while Burkina Faso take on Zambia in Mbombela. All four teams have an opportunity of making it through to the last eight.