Coach Stephen Keshi
Super Eagles players and officials have put the 1-1 draw against Burkina Faso behind them and are looking forward to the potential group decider against defending champions, Zambia on Friday with Head Coach Stephen Keshi saying only a win will do.
“We threw away the game in the last minute but that is football, if you fail to take your chances you get punished. But I have absolute confidence that you are still the big team of the group and on Friday go out there and prove it against Zambia,” Keshi told the players moment after the encounter against the Burkinabe.
Skipper Joseph Yobo, said the team still has the belief to go all the way in the championship and will prove that in the game against Zambia.
“One slip on the way does not end the journey, we are determined to make Nigerians happy with this tournament,” he said. He praised the team spirit exhibited by the Eagles before the equalizer and urged Nigerians not to give up on the squad.
Midfield star, John Mikel Obi, says the Eagles were a bit naïve in the manner they approached the closing stages of the encounter. Obi, who was named Man of The Match, said he preferred the three points to being so named and assured that the Eagles will be back and better in the game against Zambia on Friday.
There are already indications that Chelsea star, Victor Moses, who was rested by Head Coach Stephen Keshi because he was not 100 per cent fit, will play a role in the game against Zambia, as he has been passed fit by the Eagles medics. The Eagles returned to training on Tuesday afternoon to perfect strategies for the game against Zambia on Friday.
Meanwhile, an Algerian journalist with Al Jazeera TV, Laraba Mourad, has blasted his compatriot and referee for the game between Nigeria and Burkina Faso, Benouza Mohammed for being less than fair in the handling of the game, alleging that the referee has a history of poor officiating back home in Algeria.
“When I saw him at the start of the game I knew that Nigeria was in for trouble and said what the hell is he doing here. A man who has been accused in Algeria of match-fixing and taking bribes to fix games is here to officiate in Africa’s show-piece tournament? It was really sad and he did not disappoint me at the end of the day.
He called on CAF to ensure that they carry out proper scrutiny of referees across the continent before appointing them for major tournaments.
Mourad, who is South Africa to cover the Nations Cup for a TV station, also predicted that with what he saw of the Super Eagles, they can go all the way and win the trophy.
“Normally, first matches are always very tough for big teams because they don’t know the opposition, there is also pressure and in the case of Nigeria there was bad refereeing. Once the team settles down, they will go places because they have a good side and Keshi is also a very good coach because I know him in his days as Mali national team handler.”
Meanwhile, Efe Ambrose who was red carded in the encounter said he was shocked by the decision of the referee on the evening.
Ambrose said even the yellow card he was issued was a first tackle and he did not deserve to be given.
“Then, the red card was totally shocking because the contact was very minimal and it was as if he was waiting for two players to make contact to issue Nigeria a red card, but we leave God to judge him and his officiating”.