Brasilia — Super Eagles Head Coach, Stephen Keshi, admitted yesterday that it will be great to have Nigeria and Algeria in the quarter final for the first time after the other three African teams, Ghana, Cameroun and Cote d' Ivoire crashed out in the group stage of the World Cup here in Brazil.
Speaking ahead of Nigeria's crucial Round of 16 clash with 1998 champions, France, in Brasilia today, Keshi insisted that it will be great for him and the Super Eagles to defeat Les Bleus to book the quarter final berth. "It will be great for us and Algeria to do Africa proud, making it into the quarter final. For me and the boys, it will be a great honour achieving this first for Nigeria at the World Cup," observed the 2013 African Coach of the Year.
Keshi however stressed that the match will not be an easy one. "Haven played in Strasbourg, I know the French team. They are a very good side, with a lot of experience players. I have a lot of respect for Didier Deschamps, their coach. That however does not mean that my players will not go out there on the field and do their job." Unlike in the team's last Group F game with Argentina where Eagles paid so much respect to the Albeceleste in the first half, the former Togo and Mali gaffer said there will be no such thing today.
"My players play in the same league with majority of the French players and there will be no fear of any kind. After playing Lionel Messi and the rest of the Argentine super stars, who is there for us to be scared of in the French team?," queried Keshi who is desirous of becoming the first coach to lead Nigeria into the quarter finals of the World Cup to match the achievements of Ghana, Cameroun and Senegal. Influential member of the team, John Mikel Obi, who accompanied Keshi to the briefing yesterday, admitted that Eagles indeed missed Thursday scheduled training at their Vitoria Hotel base in Campinas as a result of issues bordering on appearance fee as reported by THISDAY last Saturday.
"Yes, we didn't train as scheduled because we had to sort out a little issue concerning money. It was not a major matter, We have since put that behind us now and focused on the game with France on Monday. We have been training since arriving here in Brasilia. Everyone is motivated. The minister (of Sports, Dr Tammy Danagogo) even had launch with us this afternoon to tell you that there is no more problem and that we are in the mood to get the result needed to put us in the quarter final," stressed the Chelsea stalwart. Both Keshi and Mikel congratulated captain of the team, Joseph Yobo who will be marking his centenary appearance for Nigeria's senior team against France this afternoon. "On behalf of the team, we are congratulating Yobo for the 100 caps. He remains an inspiration for us in the Super Eagles. We wish him more years of appearance for Nigeria. For me personally, I am looking forward to emulating him in the senior national team some day," concludes Mikel.