Super Eagles coach Stephen Keshi says Nigeria should believe in the team as they are set for the second round after beating Bosnia in Cuiaba on Saturday night. In this interview with Pius Ayinor, Keshi speaks about the team’s chances in the tournament.
The Ghanaians are our very close brothers and so whatever affects them affects us. Today we won and I guess everybody in West Africa is happy and it is good for the continent.
What do you like best about the Bosnia game?
The fighting spirit in the team showed as we had to do exactly what we needed to do. Many people wouldn’t realise that and how it affects performance but I really felt the heat on the sideline and so I could imagine how tough it was for the players. There are a lot of things to be corrected and we will work on that before the next game.
Was there a moment you were worried that your team would not reach the last 16?
No, I never had that fear. I had always believed we would get there; I had no doubt. But it happens in Africa as nobody ever gives us a chance. Remember I took rookies to South Africa and a similar thing happened. We started like this. Playing a goalless draw with Iran was one the greatest problem we had but we have seen the same Iran today against Argentina. If it was not for (Lionel) Messi the game would have ended in a draw. So there was never a time I thought we wouldn’t make it – as long as the players are ready to work with us. So they worked hard and here we are with a win.
What do you think your players did today that was missing against Iran?
It is just so difficult playing against a team that just wants to sit back and not attack. Whatever mistake we think we made today it will be for me and my players to work on it.
Many were surprised by Babatunde Michael’s inclusion in the squad. What informed the decision?
I don’t really know why Nigerians should be surprised about a particular player. I have a 23-man squad here. They didn’t come here to eat food, they didn’t come here for sightseeing; they are here to do the job. So they can be called upon any time. I have great faith in all of them. Babatunde is a good player; he just needs a little time. He is going to turn things around. I have watched him several times with his club before he was called up.
Why was it not Victor Moses going in for Ahmed Musa?
Your opinion is that Victor should have come in. We had many players on the bench and Victor was one of them. So if Victor doesn’t play somebody else will play. (Punch)