JOHANNESBURG — Stephen Keshi has sensationally declared that neither Malawi nor their coach, Tom Saintfiet can determine where Nigeria will play their crucial World cup qualifiers in September.
Saintfiet and Malawi were widely reported to have kicked against Calabar as venue for the crucial encounter citing security concerns and the Super Eagles have yet to lose a match after earning a dramatic late equaliser against Kenya in June.
“He’s nobody to tell us where we‘ll play,” Keshi said.
He also took time to once again re-iterate his often repeated mantra that he was indeed building a team rather than depending on a collection of stars or depending on any specific players.
Keshi was responding to questions about his decision to replace his forward line at the start of the second half after starting without wing stars, Victor Moses and Ahmed Musa, who came on to devastating effects against the Bafana Bafana at the Nelson Mandela challenge.
“I miss John Obi Mikel, Emmanuel Emenike and Kenneth Omeruo and numerous other players and my players miss them too, but the good thing is that we are not building the team around individual players, but rather as a unit.”
Keshi explained that: “Our team has been evolving for awhile. We played with a couple of players who haven‘t been with the team for a while like Victor Obinna Nsofor and Shola Ameobi who didn’t get into our movements off the ball and on the ball but will be gradually re-integrated as we go on.”
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“Bafana were expecting them in the first half, so I kept them to see how they measured up. They are not here to eat, so I had to put Uche along with Moses and Musa and they delivered.”
He says now their focus is on the final game against Malawi on September 7 adding that: “I can’t wait, the players also can’t wait.”
Meanwhile, Gordon Igesund has refused to let his head drop despite watching his wards come up short against African champions, Nigeria in the Nelson Mandela challenge on Wednesday night.
The Bafana Bafana manager, however, felt his side showed the Super Eagles too much respect as Nigeria comfortably won 2-0 at the Moses Mabhida stadium, Durban.
“I think we showed them a bit too much respect. My players seemed to be scared of tackling (Victor) Moses and some of their other players,” Igesund told Supersport after the game.
The former Orlando Pirates gaffer then focused on the positives of a special night in Durban describing the confrontation against the West Africans as “an excellent game”.