KESHI: WE'LL BE STRONG AGAINST BURKINA FASO
Posted: Jan 21, 2013
Super Eagles coach Stephen Keshi faced journalists yesterday in Nelspruit ahead of his team's South Africa
2013 Africa Cup of Nations clash with Burkina Faso tonight. NURUDEEN OBALOLA was there. Excerpts...
How difficult is your challenge, given that your squad selection has been criticized in some quarters?
It is difficult; everything in life has a degree of difficulty. We have a team of players who are here to give it their best shot. It's true that many of the players in our squad are Nations Cup debutantes, but they have experience in other ways. They played friendlies and qualifiers and they've learned to play our way.
I have absolute confidence in the players, and they need the opportunity to show Nigerians what they are capable of doing. There are other players who might not have made it, but it's the choice of the coach to select the squad.
How tough will the game against Burkina Faso be?
Of course, we can't take any opponent for granted in a competition like the Africa Cup of Nations. And Burkina Faso should be respected. I expect my players to produce a performance that will make us proud. We should show composure and give it our all.
How much do you know about the Burkina Faso team?
I don't know too much about them, but I know is that we'll be up against a very strong team. I do know that they play a 4-3-3 system, and are very forceful in midfield. They're a very good team . We have to be at our best against Burkina Faso..
How positive are you about the outcome of this match against Burkina Faso?
I'm always positive about my team's chances. We want to make Nigerians happy, and we can only do that by putting up a very good performance.
We have heard reports of injuries to some of the players: like Austin Ejide and Gabriel Reuben. What's the injury situation now? Are all the players 100 per cent f it?
If you look at football well, you'll know that players are never 100 per cent fit given the nature of the game. If I have my players at 90 per cent fitness, it's very good. Everybody is in good shape and eagerly waiting to play against Burkina Faso.
The Super Eagles could not train at the Mbobela Stadium pitch (on Monday) as scheduled, are you worried?
We're disappointed because we wanted to have a feel of the field before our game. We couldn't due to the state of the pitch: as a result of the rain ,but we'll be alright.
What's the percentage of the team for the Burkina Faso game that you have made up your mind about? 50, 70 per cent?
I know my team very well, and I consider it an insult that I'm not expected to know the team to play 24 hours before a game. I know my players and I know my team for the game.
Are you worried that you have such a young team?
I'm not worried. The only problem could be anxiety about expectations, but these guys are professionals and they know they're here to do a job. They can't allow anxiety stop them from achieving their dreams.
Your base in Nelspruit (Ingwenyama Conference and Sports Resort) is secluded and very far from town. Was the place chosen based on your recommendation?
It's a great place, with nice facilities and the boys like it. We're lucky to be based here and I can't complain.
Some people are concerned about you and how far your team can go…
Why should anybody be concerned about me? They should be concerned about the white coaches earning millions here in Africa. I'm doing all right and my players are ready.
Talking about millions, have you and the NFF resolved the issue of your delayed salaries?
We shouldn't be talking about money now on the eve of our first game in this big tournament. I love doing the job, and I'm here to do a good job for my country. Money is far from my mind right now.
So, no problem with the NFF?
No problem with them. They've given us great support and we appreciate that.
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