Nigeria coach Stephen Keshi has dedicated Tuesday’s 2-0 defeat of Ethiopia to his countrymen, after the Super Eagles earned passage to the quarter-final stage with two late penalties from Victor Moses.
The East Africans were returning to the tournament for the first time in 31 years, and Keshi admitted it had been a tough match.
“[I have] a lot of respect for the Ethiopian team because it is a quality team. We knew it wasn’t going to be easy because they love to play football just like we like to play,” said Keshi.
“This victory is a victory for Nigerians. It’s something that I’ve been waiting for so long to make Nigerians everywhere in the world happy.“
Nigeria will next play giants Cote D’Ivoire in the quarter final on Sunday, and Keshi is anticipating it will bring out the best in his team.
“Taking on Cote D’Ivoire is a different ball game, it is a different mentality – everything is different because it is not going to be the same as preparing against Ethiopia or the last two teams we played against,” he said.
The coach also praised the effort of Enugu Rangers midfielder Sunday Mba who made his first start in the tournament against Ethiopia.
“Mba was wonderful, he played so well and I’m happy for him. We’re trying to introduce young players who Mikel, Yobo and Enyeama can direct on the field.
“What we’re looking at is not just the Cup of Nations but how we will be able to build a very outstanding team for Nigeria in the next five years,” Keshi said.