Super Eagles coach Stephen Keshi
By Olawale Ajimotokan
Super Eagles coach Stephen Keshi, has said that there will be no hiding place for the Lone Star in Calabar when the Liberian senior national team visit the Cross River State capital for the crucial final qualification match of the 2013 Africa Cup of Nation on October 13.
Keshi said on Tuesday night that he was unfazed by the decision of the Liberians to pitch a training camp in Ghana ahead of the visit to Nigeria, saying the Eagles would rise to the occasion.
“They can camp anywhere they wish. Their training programme in Ghana is no treat and that won’t insulate them from an imminent defeat when they visit Calabar. If they like, let them go to the moon to camp. I do not need to monitor them. We just need to concentrate and I believe that the boys will make Nigeria proud. We just have to manage ourselves and plan well for the match. We will settle the matter in Calabar,” Keshi vowed ahead of the AFCON clash.
He also noted that his decision to increase the number of foreign based players called for the last assignment in Monrovia from 11 to 15, was in response to the tactics of the Liberians.
According to the Eagles supremo, the Liberian team last month largely comprised of home based players. But surprisingly, ahead of the trip to Calabar, they mobilised their large army of foreign based players.
Apart from Chelsea star, John Mikel Obi , Joel Obi of Inter Milan was also one of the players that staged a return to the Eagles, while Onazi Ogenyi , who plays for Lazio in Italy, was handed his first international call up by Keshi in the list released on Tuesday.
Ogenyi, a forward, was a member of the U-17 team that reached the final of FIFA U-17 World Cup at Nigeria 2009 under the watch of coach John Sam Obuh.
Keshi dismissed insinuations that the restoration of Mikel to Nigeria’s roster for the Liberia game was because of pressure from high quarters.
The Chelsea midfielder is yet to figure for the Eagles under the watch of Keshi, after his celebrated refusal to play a friendly match against Botswana last November in Benin City because the game was on an artificial pitch.
The last time he was deployed for Nigeria was in the friendly match against Ghana in London on October 11 2011, which was coincidentally the last match Samson Siasia in charge as the coach.
“I spoke with Mikel three days ago and he convinced me was ready to play for Nigeria and be part of the team that will beat Liberia for the Nations Cup ticket. I don’t have problem with Mikel, he has always figured in my plan. I know he is in form and he told me that he was ready to play for his country. Nobody forced him on the technical crew,” he defended.