This Day (Lagos)

11 January 2013

Nigeria's Afcon List - Only Keshi Knows His Choice of Eagles

Former Super Eagles' Head Coach, Adegboye Onigbinde said Thursday that only Stephen Keshi knows why he picked the 23 players he listed for the Africa Cup of Nations kicking off next weekend in South Africa.

Reacting to the final list released shortly after Nigeria's dismal draw with surprise AFCON qualifier, Cape Verde in Faro, Portugal on Wednesday night, the FIFA/ CAF instructor insisted that Keshi has exclusive right to who plays in the Eagles.

"He is in charge of the team and he has the exclusive rights to make the selection of players he feels will be needed.

"Also, he is the only one that knows the system he wants the players to play and I am sure he made his selection based on that.

"So, the only thing left is for the technical team is to ensure that the players deliver and not fall short of expectations," stressed the former Eagles handler.

However, Onigbinde tongue-lashed the mediocre performance put up by both the Eagles and Cape Verde in Wednesday's international friendly in Faro.

While stressing that the Super Eagles' performance against Cape Verde, tells a bad story about African football, Onigbinde said Thursday in Abuja that there was a need for the technical crew to improve on the team.

Eagles had earlier held the stars-studded Catalonian side to a 1-1 draw before taking on the Blue Sharks who are debuting at the AFCON in South Africa.

"I did not see any exciting moment throughout the 90 minutes of the game and that tells a bad story about African football.

"But I hope the technical crew will work on the team and make them improve," he said.

He insisted that Eagles performance against Catalonia was a fluke and should not be used to assess the team ahead of the AFCON.

"The match we played against Catalonia was a fluke. Fluke in the sense that all those stars paraded in the opponent's side had another match for their club the following day.

"So, they did not come out and play with full zeal which we saw on the pitch; we shouldn't use the match as an assessment of our team in anyway," he said.

He, however, expressed the hope that the team would lift the trophy.

"My expectation of the team as a patriotic Nigerian is that I am waiting for them to come back with the trophy.

"But I know it does not come with magic nor by talk, but by hard work, and that depends on what the coaches do with the team," Onigbinde said.

However, another veteran goalkeeper of the senior national team, Emmanuel Okala, hailed the list released by Keshi on Wednesday.

Okala believes that the list was a good development that home-based payers were getting attention as their foreign-based counterparts.

"I am particularly happy with the list, especially the inclusion of home-based players; it shows that players do not need to play abroad before getting attention.

"The team is based on the current form of the players; there is no sentiment and I believe they will go far in the tournament," he said.

A Belgian, Maurice Cooreman, who had coached Lobi Stars, Gabros International and Enyimba International, said he believes that the team will deliver.

"I am confident that the team can deliver because they showed good response to everything the Cape Verde team did in the friendly in Faro; they were unlucky not to get a goal," Cooreman said.

Another former Super Eagles defender, Bright Omokaro said he hoped they would try harder to get goals.

"The only thing was that they were unlucky to get a goal, the team played very well but they have to show their hunger to get goals."

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