Cote d’Ivoire international, Salomon Kalou
By Duro Ikhazuagbe
Cote d’Ivoire international, Salomon Kalou, has admitted that the Super Eagles deserved picking the ticket to the semi-final after his team succumbed to a 2-1 defeat against Nigeria last Sunday.
The former English Premiership player with Chelsea insisted Sunday night that the Elephants played below form and that the Super Eagles was worth its victory.
“I think Nigeria deserved the victory because we played long balls and that was not our usual tactics. We are sharper when we play between the lines. That is when we are more dangerous but today, we didn’t play that way,” he noted.
Kalou admitted that the Ivoiriens were expecting Eagles to play the long balls to avoid Elephants rooms to manoeuvre in the midfield.
“We knew that Nigeria will play that way to stop us from seizing the midfield. We were also expecting them to come really physical because we know they are a powerful team. We also realised that there were some individual with so much brilliance. We were not surprised at how they played. They got the goals and it was over for us,” recalled the Ivoirien star that was replaced in the 68th minutes by Max Gradel.
He praised Stephen Keshi for infusing players from the local Nigerian league into the Super Eagles.
“That is the challenge of playing in the national team. The local player (Sunday Mba) showed that he deserves to be in the Super Eagles and has justified Keshi’s faith in him by scoring the winning goal. I don’t believe that the senior national team of any country should be for only Europe-based players. Players from the local league who are good enough should be given the chance,” stressed Kalou.
He however said that after the Elephants’ failure to get to the final and take a shot at the trophy, “we will go back home and begin to re-strategize on how to improve on our game”.