He told the players on the first day of training, “It will be my delight if 10 players prove good enough to make the championship roster and I will be happy if at all times four of such players can start every game. But you have to prove it on the pitch that you are ready for the challenge.”
After over three months of layoff from the national team’s camp as a result of injuries, Kano Pillars duo of Gabriel Reuben and Papa Idris were the major attractions on the first training session that had 22 players from the domestic league working out. There were fears over the two players who have been part of the national team setup from the home front since Keshi took over but they proved they were very fit on Monday morning at the Practice Pitch of the Abuja National Stadium.
At Monday morning training session, only Akwa United’s Bassey and Fengor Ogude of Velaranga of Norway were missing. Fengor was permitted a short leave as his wife was delivered of a baby girl last Friday. The player, who is on holidays in Nigeria, is the first of the foreign-based players listed for the final camp ahead of South Africa 2013.
The Nigeria Football Federation is expected to announce this week the other 17 foreign-based professionals who are expected to report directly to the team’s training camp in Portugal while Keshi is expected to pick about 15 players from those already in Abuja for the European country.
The Eagles camp in Abuja will continue with the players scheduled to train once daily until they arrive in Portugal for the final stage.
Nigeria are in Group C for the African championship alongside defending champions Zambia, Burkina Faso and Ethiopia. Eagles are returning to the main stage after missing out on the 2012 edition having lost the spot to Guinea in Abuja on the last day of the qualifying series.