With just days to the commencement of the 2014 African Nations Championship (Chan) in South Africa, head coach of the Super Eagles, Stephen Keshi insists he still does not have a team.
Keshi said on Saturday after the Super Eagles defeated Ethiopia’s Walya Ibex 2-1 in their latest build-up game for the Chan, decided at the Abuja National Stadium.
The Nigeria gaffer was full of praise for his charges following the win against the Ethiopians but warned that expectation levels must not be placed at the rafters.
“I know there is still more work to be done in the team. And I continue to maintain that I still do not have a team because it is not possible to build a team for a major tournament in three weeks. Not even (Fabio) Capello or (Arsene) Wenger can do that,” Keshi told reporters after Saturday’s game.
NFF’s President Aminu Maigari strongly disagrees that the federation allowed only three weeks preparation for Keshi.
“The federation accommodates the programmes of the coaches. Building of a team begins from the day a coach is given a job. It begins with qualification matches. You use different players in matches and you organise a pool of players so that you are ready for injuries or other challenges. The federation has done enough for the coaches to deliver and we have confidence in them that they will deliver,” Maigari had reacted to earlier complaint on short preparation.
Keshi noted that the win against Ethiopia, a side he rated highly, was important for their preparations for the Chan.
“I have to praise my boys for beating the Ethiopians. This is a team that has been together for the past six years.
“So, the boys did well, though, they sort of got tired in the second half but they really did their best and I feel they will get better by the time the competition begins,” he said.
The Eagles will begin their preliminary campaign at the 2014 Chan on January 11 against Mali in Cape Town.
They will then face Mozambique in their second game at the tournament on January 15 before rounding off their Group A campaign against hosts, South Africa four days later, also in Cape Town.