Super Eagles coach Stephen Keshi basking in the euphoria of a big victory over Africa Nations Cup favourites, Cote d’Ivoire, has blasted Nigerians. Keshi who said that his team did not enjoy the needed support before the Eagles game against Elephants on Sunday carpeted the fans for their lack of patience.
Against all odds and bookmakers rating, Nigeria reached the semi-finals of the Nations Cup after beating the Ivorians 2-1 at the Royal Bafokeng Stadium, Rustenburg.
Keshi said, “I thank the players, Nigerians and all those who criticised the team. They all contributed to the victory we had today. The big challenge we have is that Nigerians do not believe in the home-based players but I do. I believe if they are given the opportunity they’ll play much better. The problem is that in Nigeria, where I come from, we’re not patient with the home-based players.”
In Sunday’s match, Nigeria scored first through a thunderous free-kick from Emmanuel Emenike but the Ivorians equalised early in the second half and seized control of possession before Warri Wolves’ Sunday Mba scored the winner. Keshi said he had no doubt that Nigeria would win even after the Eagles conceded the equaliser while avoiding singling out any individual player as hero of the game.
“It wasn’t about individual game, we just wanted to win the game. It wasn’t just Sunday Mba who was the hero, everyone in the team was a hero. Mba scored the golden goal, and I’m just so happy. Maybe I have to give him a kiss if I see him,” Keshi said.
“What is important is that we are progressing everyday and I hope that we will keep growing that way. Nobody gave us a chance to beat the Ivorians because of their quality but we have done it today.”
While assessing the opponents, Keshi noted that although Nigeria won the match, it was a difficult game for the Eagles.
“We are not ready to go home and that’s what has happened. We wrestled against great players like Didier Drogba and Yaya Toure and it’s good to end such contest with victory,” he said.
The Eagles should laugh to the bank with the victory over the Ivorians. The players were promised $15,000 each if they secured a semi-final ticket over their fellow West Africans. The amount does not include the $100,000 donated to the team by Rivers Governor Rotimi Amaechi and the pledge made by billionaire businessman Alhaji Aliko Dangote.
Nigeria’s semi-final match is on Wednesday. The third place match for losers will hold on Saturday while the final match of the competition is billed for Sunday in Johannesburg.