Coach Stephen Keshi has told Nigerians not to panic as the Super Eagles prepare for crucial 2014 World Cup qualifying games and the Fifa Confederations Cup tournament – all taking place in June.
A spate of injuries, first to Scotland-based midfielder Reuben Gabriel and ace forward Emmanuel Emenike, and lately to attacking midfielders Kalu Uche and Victor Moses, had caused anxiety in some quarters and is being hyper-ventilated in public spaces and a section of the media as ‘problem in camp.’
But Keshi, who steered less-endowed Togo to that country’s only FIFA World Cup qualification eight years ago, said he was more than committed to leading his own country to next year’s finals in Brazil, no matter the challenges.
“I am never one to run away from challenges; I have confronted them head-on all my life. I have very good relationship with each and every of my players, with mutual respect and regard being the bedrock.
“The players that we have invited for these matches are patriots and are always ready to defend the green-white-green. We have 16 players here now and team spirit is high. Everyone wants to play. What we will certainly not do is to beg anyone to play for Nigeria”.
Nigeria’s longest-serving captain said the late arrival of some players is to be expected at this time of the season: “Most of the players have just concluded very gruelling seasons and have need to sort out personal issues, and of course there are talks to hold ahead of next season. These talks have to be done now considering that the players would be away for about seven weeks, on duty for Nigeria.”
The team’s Novina Hotel camp in Nuremberg swelled on Wednesday morning with the arrivals of Germany-based striker Joseph Akpala and Ukraine-based forward Babatunde Michael.
Portugal-based John Ogu was being expected on Wednesday night, while defenders Kenneth Omeruo and Elderson Echiejile, as well as midfielder Nnamdi Oduamadi are expected in camp on Thursday.
First-choice goalkeeper Vincent Enyeama, based in Israel, is expected on Friday. Scotland-based stopper Efe Ambrose and Italy-based midfielder Ogenyi Onazi has been granted permission to arrive on Saturday due to club commitments.
Ukraine-based forward Brown Ideye will join the team in Texas, USA while Ahmed Musa and Fegor Ogude will join the squad in Frankfurt after the friendly with Mexico in America, also due to club commitments.
The team will fly out of Frankfurt on Tuesday morning aboard a Lufthansa Airline aircraft, and will arrive in Houston, Texas in the evening. Abode is the classy The Westin Galleria and Westin Oaks.