1st February, 2014
Stephen Keshi, the Head Coach of the Super Eagles, on Saturday praised his players for being able to interpret his instructions on the field of play.
Keshi made the remark during the post-match news conference in Cape Town Stadium after the Super Eagles’ 1-0 win over the Warriors of Zimbabwe to place third in the 2014 African Nations Championship (CHAN).
“I am so happy with the boys over these three weeks.
“I will call it so, they have grown in stature, and they are beginning to understand what I want and the mentality to express the game the way I want.
“I am happy for that in spite of the fact that they wanted to play in the final and did not get there but they still showed their mental strength against the Zimbabweans.
“The major goal for me in this tournament was to expose these players and see if I can draft a couple of them into my World Cup squad in five months time,’’ he said.
On his immediate plans after the tournament in the build up to the World Cup, Keshi said that the main Eagles squad would regroup sometime in February for a friendly match.
“In three weeks time we will have to regroup for a friendly match against Mexico, which will fall on a FIFA match day; apart from this arrangement any other development will be secondary.
“I will use the opportunity to see and assess my major players and to also give some other players the opportunity to show what they can do, and to see whether they can attain the standard that I am looking for.
“Thereafter. we will wait for the professional players to round up their season, so that we can regroup in Houston (U.S.) to begin our preparations for the World Cup,’’ Keshi added.
In the same vein, Chigozie Agbim congratulated the Warriors of Zimbabwe for the good show they had put up against the Eagles.
“I want to congratulate the Zimbabweans for the good fight they had put up in the match.
“When we came into the tournament our aim was to win the trophy, but in football, sometimes things don’t come the way you plan it.
“We still thank God that we are not going home empty-handed and I also want to thank my colleagues for their contributions,’’ Agbim said.
Meanwhile, Ian Gorowa, the coach of Zimbabwe, lamented the red card that was handed down to one of his players in the 16th minute of the match, saying it affected his team’s performance.
“The red card completely disrupted our match plan and we had to play deep to contain the Nigerian team for the most part of the match.
“We tried to see if we could drag the match into a penalty shootout but fatigue eventually set in and we conceded the goal that decided the match in the 85 minute.
“In spite of the defeat, we see our playing in the third place match in a continental tournament as a milestone in Zimbabwean football,’’ Gorowa said.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the Eagles had to fight hard to subdue the resilient Zimbabweans who had one of their players sent off for a foul on Agbim in the 16 minute.
It was finally in the 85 minute that Chinonso Obiozor scored with a header to decide the match in Nigeria’s favour.
Obiozor was also adjudged as the man of the match.