Stephen Keshi talking with the players in Abuja
By Duro Ikhazuagbe
Nigeria’s build up to crucial games scheduled for next month in both the 2013 African Cup of Nations and 2014 World Cup qualifiers will further be tested early hours of Thursday as Stephen Keshi leads a predominantly home based Super Eagles against the La Rojiblanca of Peru in an international friendly.
After going through two days of delays in Lagos and Madrid respectively, the Eagles arrived the Peruvian capital, Lima on Monday evening, jetlagged. Officials of the Nigeria Drug Law Enforcement Agency (NDLEA) who were in pursuit of two drug couriers aboard same flight as the senior Nigerian team, were the cause of the first delay in Lagos.
But all that is history now as Keshi leads out his wards for another game in the build up, which has seen him play six game in charge since taking over from his friend, Samson Siasia as Eagles head coach last November. The slip to the Pharaohs of Egypt in Dubai last month is the only defeat for Keshi so far.
And this game Wednesday night at the Estadio Nacional Jose Diaz in Lima is not likely going to be difficult for the Eagles, most especially with the fortification of the squad with five players plying their trades abroad.
The players include, Raheem Lawal, Ekigho Ehiosun, Nwankwo Obiorah, Gege Soriola and Nnamdi Oduamadi.
Given the poor form of the La Rojiblanca of recent, that has seen them fail to win any of the last six games they have played, the Sergio Markarian's side may not prove real threat to the visitors from Africa.
The South Americans in their last three games - all friendly matches - lost over two legs to Chile and drew against Tunisia.
Peru are similarly using this friendly as tune-up for their 2014 FIFA World Cup qualifying games against Colombia and Uruguay in June. They do not boast of serious top players in major European leagues but can readily call on the likes of Juan Manuel Vargas, Leao Butron, Luis Advincula, Luis Ramirez, Jefferson Farfan and Claudio Pizarro.
Their biggest player, Farfan is Chinedu Ogbuke Obasi’s Schalke FC team mate in Germany. Many of the fans believe he would wreck Nigeria if he plays.
But Keshi appears not to be fazed by the opposition the Eagles are facing today in Lima.