Leadership (Abuja)

24 January 2013

Nigeria: Eagles Cool,Calm and Collected - Keshi

Nigeria head coach, Stephen Keshi, despite admitting that the Chipolopolo (Copper Bullets) of Zambia will be tough, believes in the strength of his team.

Keshi's comment though carry a tinge of pressure ahead of Friday's crucial Africa Cup of Nations clash with Zambia, he is confident his team can earn a result at the Mbombela Stadium in Nelspruit.

"Yes, we are playing against the defending champions and we know they are very good but we also know our potentials and we are sure to come clean at the end," said the head coach of Nigeria's Super Eagles.

And Keshi could not hide the pressure his troops are faced with from millions of their supporters back home.

The Nigerian coach pleaded for time to continue his rebuilding of the team and the pressure on the team is apparently due to the 1-1 draw with Burkina Faso in their Afcon opener on Monday.

"Yes, we have millions of coaches in Nigeria but they must understand that every national team that has achieved (big results) took time to build and they must give this Super Eagles side time to grow," begged the ex-Mali coach.

The former Togo manager then broke off to talk about his relationship with president of the Football Association of Zambia (FAZ), Kalusha Bwalya.

Keshi said he is looking forward to reuniting with Bwalya after their time in the Belgium top flight in the 1980s playing against each other up till the final of the 1994 Afcon in Tunisia when Nigeria edged Zambia to become African champions for a second time.

"We played together in Belgium, while I was with Anderlecht, he was with Cercle Brugges and we were like brothers, up to the 1994 final in Tunisia. It does not mean we didn't kick ourselves on the pitch (back then). So on Friday our players will kick themselves and we will do the handshakes (after the game)," said Keshi.

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