KESHI: ‘WE’LL GIVE OUR BEST’
Posted: Jan 19, 2013
Super Eagles coach assures of quality representation but makes no promises...
Big Boss, how would you describe your team’s preparations right from the camping exercise in Abuja to Faro, Portugal?
It’s been okay. The team has been going through a rebuilding process with a lot of young players coming in. The level of discipline in camp is okay. The atmosphere is wonderful. I hope that we keep up the momentum, atmosphere and confidence level when the tournament starts in South Africa.
One of your teammates in 1994, Edema Fuludu has talked about the similarities between this team and the 1994 squad, camping in Faro, playing Farense in your last friendly. Why did you follow the same template this time around?
No, No, No we just looked at the possibility of playing a local team and Farense was the one available. Aside that, they are a very solid team who have played in the European championship.
You have been at the Africa Cup of Nations and won it as a player. You have also won silver as well as bronze medals, in addition to the silver medal you won as assistant coach but failed to go beyond the group stage with Togo and Mali, What is going to happen this time around?
Well, we will take it game by game that is our policy. We will put in our best to ensure positive results in all our games.
Let‘s talk about the players that will be doing the job for us, you played your last friendly, a 5-0 win against Farense, how would you describe it and do you thinks is a boost going into the Nations Cup after complaints recently that your players were not scoring goals?
Nigerians have to realize that it is not every day you come to the office and you are hundred percent. The players are human beings and they are bound to make mistakes once in a while just like every one of us.
We have seen your team play different kinds of formation in the friendly games leading up to the Nations Cup. What exactly is your philosophy going into the tournament, are we going to see your team play 4-4-2, 4-3-3 or other formations?
No No No….. I‘m sure you guys saw it well. We started with 4-4-2 and in the Liberia game (final AFCON qualifier) we adopted the 4-3-3 and that is the way we have been playing.
Let’s talk about the players, Bright Dike scored a great goal in the friendly against Catalonia and you dropped him from the squad, People are asking why did Keshi drop Bright Dike after what looked like an impressive start for Nigeria?
Dike is a player I like so much. He is a good footballer with good mentality but he his not ready yet.
I have seen him play and I know his potentials. He is going to be a good goal scorer for the country in the next one year.
With the time I have now I cannot impact what I want to impact in him. He still has another chance to come if he wants to play for us. He is a good kid, we like him, it was difficult to drop him from the squad, not just him others too. All the players were in great shape and picking the final 23 was a difficult task for us.
Those that we picked, we have confidence in their abilities to do well in the tournament.
Would you want to agree with those who have said you have gambled with this squad going into the Nations Cup by naming as much as six home based players and a large number of players who have not been there before?
Life is about gamble, it is about risk. You have to take a risk before you can achieve success. In 1982 and 1984 we had mostly home based players who represented us at the Nations Cup.
It was the same in 1990 where Daniel Amokachi was discovered by Clemens Westerhof. That was a team that had a good number of home based. I know a lot about the team even though I didn‘t go then.
I wanted to play then but my club didn‘t allow me go. In 1984 when Adegboye Onigbinde was our coach, all of us were home based and we made it to the finals.
I don’t understand what the argument is all about these days. It‘s important to give every player the chance to show what he can do, whether he is based at home or abroad. We have to give the home based guys the opportunity now because I believe they are the future.
It will be bad if we have a national league and we can’t bring out any player to play for the national team. We might as well cancel our national league and just focus on the professionals.
Talking about three key players of the team who have little doubts hanging over their heads. Austine Ejide who has started light training, Victor Moses didn’t play in the final preparatory game against Farense and there is also Reuben Gabriel whose fitness has looked suspect, what can you tell us about these three players? How ready are they for the Nations Cup?
They are all fine. Reuben played in our last friendly against Farense. Ejide is practising, Victor Moses is also practising.
They are all practising. They are all going to be ready when the tournament starts.
How much do you know about the teams you are going to encounter in South Africa. I believe you know much about Zambia because you played against them in your first game in charge of the Super Eagles. How much of Ethiopia and Burkina Faso do you know?
I know about Burkina Faso, They are a good team. We saw them at the last Africa Cup of Nations in Gabon and Equatorial Guinea. They are a compact and good team.
The Zambia coach is boasting that Super Eagles don’t look like a team that can take him out.
Okay, when we meet on the 25th of January we will find out who is the strongest.
What words of assurance are you going to give to Nigerians as we get set for the Nations Cup in South Africa?
What assurance? I‘m not God but I’m going to give my best and I’m certain the players will give their best too. I can‘t give assurance because I’m not God.
However, Nigerians can be sure we will give our utmost best at the competition.
Are you under any kind of pressure going into the Nations Cup?
If I’m under pressure, it is going to be Stephen Keshi‘s pressure.
We wish you the very best in South Africa.
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