By Tony Ubani
AMIDST the euphoria of winning the African Cup of Nations, the back-slapping, rewards and promises, Super Eagles coach Stephen Keshi has taken a cursory look at his bumpy ride to glory in South Africa and declared that he used the “Super Chicken’’ moniker to bring out the best from the players.
The Super Eagles were unimpressive in their first two games and were ridiculed by many referring to them as ‘’Super Chicken” while Ivorian Emmanuel Eboue was quoted as calling them ‘’Super Fried Chicken”.
Speaking at a Tom Tom Round table with the media, Keshi said that he couldn’t understand “how a team I captained for 14 years has suddenly become so weak that people will call the players Super Chicken.
I challenged the players to rise up and prove people wrong and change this ridiculous name from a team that used to be a power-house in African football.
It was emotional and the challenge sunk into the players deeply. But I must tell you the boys were awesome. Another factor that brought out the best from the players, too, was from team Secretary, Dayo Enebi. He approached the players to ask them their destination before the Cote dÍvoire game because he wanted to book flights for them.
The money had been provided for that. The boys were angry and told him to leave them alone because they would beat Cote d’Ivoire”. Sports ministry denied this when we published it during the games.
Keshi admitted that the game against Cote d’Ivoire was purely tactical, with a lot of discipline to subdue them.
“After Ethiopia, we used three days to plan for Cote d’Ivoire. We analysed the players and their team. We found out that even though they had good players, they did not play like a team. So, we fashioned a play that ensured that Kalou, Yaya Toure and Gervinho had no time on the ball. That was why they could not get the ball to Drogba”.
Asked on his feelings during and after the final match, Keshi said; “I was a little bit tensed just like any other game. When you realize that we played the same team and conceded a last minute equalizer you are bound to feel that way.
But I tried to tell the boys that it was almost over and they should try to kill the game. After the game we were overwhelmed with emotions.
But I must say that we celebrated the victory over Cote d’Ivoire as if it was the final. In the last game we celebrated too, but it was not as emotional as the time we beat Cote d’Ivoire. We went into the game against Burtkina Faso knowing that we would beat them”.