By John Egbokhan
Coach Stephen Keshi has said that tomorrow’s international friendly match between the Super Eagles and the La Blanquiroja of Peru at the Lima National Stadium would serve as an appetizer of what to expect from the team in next month’s 2014 World Cup and 2013 Africa Cup of Nations qualifiers.
With the clock counting down quickly to the busy month of June, which sees the Eagles play two World Cup qualification matches against Namibia on June 3 in Calabar, before they travel to Malawi the following week. They also host Rwanda to a second leg qualifier for the 2013 Nations Cup on June 17 in Calabar.
Keshi said that he hoped to perfect his plans for the aforementioned games with the game against Peru.
Speaking before their trip to Lima at the weekend, the former Eagles captain, said that the shape of things to come in June will be known when the mostly home-based players step on the field to play the Peruvian national team, who are using the game to shape up for the South America qualifying series for the 2014 World Cup in Brazil.
“This match is very important because we are going to know our strength as we head into next month’s World Cup qualification series. This game will enable me to know how well these players have learnt and are ready for the tasks ahead”, added Keshi.
And despite the rigorous experience that the team suffered to get to their destination, Keshi, speaking yesterday, was still confident that the team would acquit themselves well against their hosts.
“We will do well against Peru, that is why I have told them to take enough rest and tune their minds to the game at hand and forget the rigours of the trip”, he said.
Keshi said that the country’s absence at the last Africa Cup of Nations jointly hosted by Equatorial Guinea and Gabon has added an extra pressure on the team to qualify for the 2013 Nations Cup and 2014 World Cup.
“Nigerians are still sad that we did not qualify for last Nations Cup. We owe them tickets to the next Nations Cup and World Cup. The journey begins in June and we are almost set”, said Keshi.
Eagles tackle Peru tomorrow (2a.m)
Nigerians itching to know when their darling national team will play the international friendly against Peru on can now heave a sigh of relief and probably plan ahead for the game which has been scheduled for 8pm Peru time, which is about 2:00a.m Nigerian time (Thursday) morning.
Eagles Secretary Dayo Enebi, who was in the advance party for the friendly said the host picked the time that suits them and he expects one of NFF broadcast partners; African Independent Television (AIT), to transmit the game live.
There already seem to be a frenzy about the friendly by Lima residents as quite a sizeable number of them came out to catch a glimpse of the Nigerian side when they arrived the airport, on arrival at the hotel and during their meals. That has expectedly put some burden on Stephen Keshi and his crew.
The coach however, takes consolation in the fact that the players know themselves well and it won’t be difficult adjusting to play as a team after just one training session. “We will do well against Peru, that is why I have told them to take enough rest and tune their minds to the game at hand and forget the rigours of the trip”, he said.