CUIABA (AFP) – Sombre Stephen Keshi said Friday his heart went out to those who had lost loved ones in the bomb attack that killed 21 people watching a World Cup game on a big screen in Nigeria on Tuesday.
The atrocity struck as fans were watching the Brazil game against Mexico in Damataru, capital of Yobe state., the day after Nigeria’s opening goalless draw with Iran.
“It’s not a pleasant thing, seeing people dying for no reason,” coach Keshi told a press conference at Cuiaba’s Arena Pantanal.
“It was like a double jeopardy — after our game most Nigerians weren’t very happy we had a tie against Iran, then the bomb blast wasn’t pleasant at all.
“It’s very tough for Nigerians, our heart goes out to them and we will do everything possible to ensure we can put a smile on their faces tomorrow.”
Captaining the Super Eagles on Tuesday is Joseph Yobo, and the Norwich City defender gave his reaction to the attack blamed on Boko Haram militants.
“We are very sad about the news,” Yobo, who is on loan to Turkish side Fenerbahce said.
“We understand the situation. I think without the fans football wouldn’t be enjoyable.
“Players understand why we’re here at the World Cup, to win games, and then hopefully everyone will be happy.
“All we can try and do is perform well for our country.”
Previous deadly attacks on big screen venues in Nigeria blamed on Boko Haram militants have prompted at least two states to close such centres on security grounds.
At least 21 people were killed in the football bomb attack, according to a medical source, although state police put the death toll at 14. Nigeria’s police advised fans to stay away from public venues showing matches.
Turning to matters on the pitch in Brazil, Keshi reflected on the drab Iran stalemate and the criticism that generated back home in Lagos.
“We could not give our style of play (but) tomorrow will be a different game. Bosnia have a different style of play and mentality and we will be ready for them.
“The goals weren’t coming against Iran, there was a lot of anxiety, we couldn’t produce our way of playing.
“Nigeria is a difficult place, but at the same time they appreciate football.
“Against Iran they felt it wasn’t our true ability, they were disappointed in the performance of the team
“They felt we didn’t perform as highly as they were expecting, but we’re here for business.”
Yobo, who replaces Godfrey Oboabona in defence, refuted suggestions in the Nigerian media that the World Cup squad was beset by internal strife.
“We have no problems, we know why we’re here, we’re very focussed, we have a big game tomorrow.
“There’s a lot of expectations, there are no divisions, we’re all working hard.
“People try to create divisions.”
A win for Nigeria would push them onto four points in Group F and in a solid enough position to secure a ticket to the knockout stages as runners-up to likely table toppers Argentina.