It was a game filled with lack lustre performances from many of Nigeria’s players as the country fell 2-1 to Mali in their debut match at the African Nations Championship on Saturday.
Gbolahan Salami’s header was not enough for the Super Eagles who fell to goals from Abdoulaye Sissoko and Adama Traore.
Coach Stephen Keshi has come to the defence of his misfiring squad by saying they were awed by the enormity of the occasion.
“The pressure was massive and I expected this type of happening but I am certain that they now know that they have to satisfy themselves and have confidence in themselves, because we have lost the opening game and we have to forget that and fight for qualification from the remaining two games,” said Keshi after the encounter.
Defender Azubuike Egwuekwe, one of the players blamed for a lot of the mistakes in the back that allowed the Malians free reign, also spoke about the team’s intentions to get back into the competition.
“We didn’t play well at all [on Saturday] and we all know it but we have decided that we will come back stronger and better,” he said.
The Nigerians will face Mozambique in a must win game for both teams on Wednesday. Hosts South Africa defeated the Mambas 3-1 in the first match of the competition.