This Day (Lagos)

Nigeria: Stephen Keshi - Says the Team Is Calm and Ready for Friday's Crunch Battle

Super Eagles Head Coach, Stephen Keshi says the team is calm and ready for Friday's crunch battle against defending champions, Chipolopolo of Zambia at the Mbombela Stadium in Nelspruit.

Speaking at the pre-match media briefing at the team's Ingwenyama Sports Resort in Nelspruit on Thursday afternoon, Keshi said he foresees a difficult game but was sure that his wards will come out better at the end of the encounter.

"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 of the day."

In company of team skipper, Joseph Yobo, Keshi praised the output of the team in the last game against Burkina Faso and again pleaded with Nigerians to give his youthful side time to blossom.

"Yes, we have millions of coaches in Nigeria but they must understand that every national team that has achieved took time to build and they must give this Super Eagles side time to grow," he said.

Keshi also spoke about his former play-mate in Belgium who is now the Football Association of Zambia (FAZ), President, Kalusha Bwalya, declaring that he has had a wonderful relationship with him over the years and does hope to have a good handshake with him at the end of Friday's game no matter where the result goes.

"We played together in Belgium, while I was in Anderletch, he was in Club Brugges and we were like brothers, up to the 1994 finals in Tunisia. It does not mean we don't kick ourselves on the pitch, so on Friday our players will kick themselves and we will do the handshakes!"

Skipper Joseph Yobo, said he would not talk much about the boast by the Zambian side that they will take Nigeria to the cleaners.

"We shall see when we get to the pitch tomorrow," he declared.

Earlier, Chelsea star, Victor Moses, said he was now fully fit for the game against Zambia and would love to score a goal for his three-month-old son, Brentley.

"I have been in touch with the mother and my little boy and I feel I should do him a world of good by picking three points from Zambia and eventually winning a trophy from Africa for my little boy," he declared.

Meanwhile, the Super Eagles on Thursday also took time off their busy schedule to visit Valencia Park Primary School in Nelspruit to learn from plans by the school to develop a football culture mixed with astute education.

Assistant Coach, Dan 'The Bull' Amokachi led the team of coaches and players that included Coach Sylvanus Okpala, Hydounou Valere and Ike Shorunmi with organizers of the event declaring that it was meant to blend football skills with geometrics and help marry the game with education.

Pupils of the school, who were quite excited to see the Nigerian national team, said they learnt a lot from the exploits of the Nigerian players over the years and are ready to groom their wards to attain the heroics of the Super Eagles over the years with education as the bedrock.

Assistant Captain of the side, Vincent Enyeama, thereafter presented five balls to the school on behalf of the team to the joy of the pupils and teachers of the elite primary school.

In the meantime, Vice Chairman of the NFF Technical Committee, Chief Felix Anyansi-Agwu, says Nigerians must repose total confidence in the present squad, in their run-up to the championship challenge at South Africa 2013, as he has total confidence in the abilities of the team to deliver.

Speaking after one of the team's training sessions in the course of the week, Anyansi-Agwu, who led Enyimba FC of Aba to back-to-back victories of the African Champions League, discovering in the process players like Vincent Enyeama and Ikechukwu Kalu, said he has so far been pleased with the tactical approach of the coaching crew headed by Stephen Keshi.

"We are certain that this team will go very far in this tournament and Nigerians must join in this optimism, going by what I have seen so far," he declared.

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