CHAN 2014 Qualifier: Eagles Won’t Underrate Elephants —Keshi

super eaglesnigeria teamChief Coach of Nigeria’s home-based Eagles, Stephen Keshi has stated in clear terms that they won’t underrate the Elephants of Cote d’Ivoire in the second leg of the African Nations Championship, CHAN, billed for Saturday in Abidjan.

The Eagles recorded an emphatic 4-1 victory in the first leg decided at the Sanni Abacha Stadium, Kaduna State, but Keshi says the Eagles will go all out in search of victory against their fellow West Africans.

Speaking before the team’s departure Thursday morning, the former Hawks of Togo soccer tactician said they are not in any way scared of their opponents, declaring that he is sure of victory.

“We are not scared of the Ivoirians and we are absolutely ready for our opponents, it is football, we would be approaching the game as if it is the first leg of the qualifiers with a view to defeating them.”

On the preparedness of the team for the antics of their opponents, the former Eagles of Mali coach opined: “I once played professional football with Stade d’Abidjan in Cote d’Ivoire so I know what to expect, all we need do is to remain focused and approach the tie with utmost seriousness.”

Also brimming with confidence is skipper of the team, Chigozie Agbim, the Rangers International of Enugu goalkeeper said they are battle ready for whatever their opponents throw at them come Saturday.

According to him “We are going to Cote d’Ivoire to spill blood for our fatherland, there is nothing too much for one to do for one’s country, and we also want to make history by qualifying for the championship.”

You Must Fear No Foe, Maigari Tells Eagles

Super-Eagles-0409President of the Nigeria Football Federation, Alhaji Aminu Maigari has told players of the Super Eagles Team B to fear no foe and believe in themselves as they confront their Ivorian counterparts in Abidjan on Saturday afternoon.

The Eagles landed in Abidjan on Thursday morning, with a handy 4-1 lead from the first leg, and Maigari immediately charged the boys to go and conquer, and forget whatever antics the Ivorians have up their sleeves.

“You should be pre-occupied with your own strategies and tactics to conquer, and not bother your heads about what pranks the opponents would play.

“It is also important to approach the match as if you have no advantage from the first leg here in Nigeria. If you start thinking that you have a handsome credit, that would be a poor approach and the Ivorians will gain strength from that. “The NFF believes in you and this is why we have given Coach Stephen Keshi all the support in his rebuilding plan, which has involved giving the home boys equal opportunities in the main team, alongside the overseas-based professionals.”

Maigari insisted that a professional approach to the game would be key to delivering the ticket that would see Nigeria playing in the African Nations Championship for the first time. “Go in there with the mentality of a winning team and you would get the ticket. Nigerians are looking forward to your coming back with the ticket that will set the tone for another triumph for our country in South Africa early next year,” said the NFF President.  Saturday’s clash at the fabled Stade Felix Houphouet-Boigny in the heart of Cote d’Ivoire’s commercial and economic capital will start at 3.30pm Ivorian team (4.30pm Nigeria time).

Eneramo Undergoes Heart Surgery

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Besiktas forward Michael Eneramo has undergone a heart surgery and may be out of action for up to five weeks.

The former Esperance of Tunisia skipper was discovered to have a heart beat rhythm disorder, but was later cleared after a third round of examinations.

According to Fanatik, Football Federation of Turkey will make the final decision about the future of the big Nigeria striker.

The Federation’s medical board report is expected next week.

MTNFootball.com reports that Besiktas reached an agreement with Eneramo for a two-year deal after his contract at another Turkish club Sivasspor ended this summer.

The top Istanbul club is currently in Austria for pre-season training ahead of the forthcoming campaign.

Brazilians Want Eagles at 2014 World Cup

Super-Eagles-0409Super Eagles have a large fan base in Brazil who will want Nigeria to qualify for the 2014 FIFA World Cup which incidentally is to be staged in Brazil.

Nigeria was one of the eight countries that attended the FIFA Confederations Cup in Brazil.

In addition to matching its game against other top football nations, the tournament also provided the platform for Nigeria to warm up to the local fans.

Although the Eagles did not go beyond the first round, the team will cherish the overwhelming support it received from Brazilians in Salvador and Fortazela.

Inside a packed Arena Fonte Nova in Salvador, Brazilians openly rooted Nigeria and booed their South American neighbours, Uruguay in group fixture on June 20.

Three days later, they urged on the Nigerians against Spain in the north eastern city of Fortaleza.

Even after Nigeria was eliminated from the campaign, the locals still turned up in en masse at their hotel along Beira Mar Avenue, on the Iracema Beach, Fortaleza to bid the Nigerians bye.

Stunned by the outpouring of love by the locals, the President of the Nigeria Football Federation (NFF) Aminu Maigari, vowed that the federation would leave no stone unturned to ensure the qualification of Nigeria for the 2014 World Cup.

The Super Eagles will still have to overturn Malawi in Calabar in the last group match in September which sets up a nervy climax in October- November, where all 10 leaders in the African qualifying pools will play direct knock out over two legs, to produce the continent’s five representatives to the World Cup.

A Brazilian, Leandro, gave a gesture of approval at Avenue Sete Setembro, Salvador that Nigeria is capable of causing an upset at the World Cup provided the coaches work on some weaknesses.

”Nigeria (pronounced Neheria) played robust football that caught the eye. The Eagles would have comfortably graced the semi finals if they had good strikers. Your team will surprise many at the World Cup if they bring forwards who will convert all their chances” Leandro said.

His view was echoed by a tourist at Iracema who backed Nigeria to cause an upset at the World Cup if they include all their key players.

But aside taking to Nigeria because of its football antecedents, the good reception accorded Nigeria also stems from the historical and cultural links between Nigeria and Brazil.

Salvador, the capital of state of Bahia, has a vibrant black population, more than 60 per cent of who are descendants of African slaves, with strong link to western part of Nigeria.

The people eat acaraje (akara) a delicacy made of fried bean, live in buildings similar to what exist in parts of Nigeria, worship Yemanja (Yemoja in Yoruba pantheon of gods) and are largely marginalised.

It is no wonder that they are largely attracted to a Nigerian dressed in a native outfit as he ”reminds us of the way our parents used to dress before they arrived Brazil as slaves”.

Keshi Dreams Emenike, Ameobi, Anichebe Attack Against Malawi

keshiSUPER Eagles’ Coach, Stephen Keshi, wants to unleash Shola Ameobi, Emmanuel Emenike and Victor Anichebe on Malawi when both teams meet in a decisive Brazil 2014 World Cup qualifier later this month.

Ameobi just has one cap for Nigeria, while Anichebe has not played for the Super Eagles since Keshi became the coach in 2011.

Newcastle United’s Ameobi was listed in Keshi’s team for the South Africa 2013 Nations Cup campaign, but the Magpies stopped him from being part of the victorious team owing to the nature of contract he has with the English team.

Keshi told BBC Friday that a clause in the striker’s club contract which prevented him from playing at this year’s Africa Cup of Nations has been removed.

“He’s been dealing with this for a while and I’m happy it [the clause] has been removed,” Keshi said.

“Just as we were giving up on him, he called to give us the good news.”

The 31-year-old Ameobi has played only once for the Super Eagles, in a 3-1 friendly win over Venezuela in Miami, Florida in November 2012.

He showed his worth in that game by setting up the third goal but Keshi has been unable to call on the former England Under-21 international’s services since then.

Keshi is delighted Ameobi is set to return in time for a 2014 World Cup qualifier at home to Malawi in September – a game which Nigeria must not lose if they are to secure a final play-off spot for next year’s tournament in Brazil.

“I’ve always admired Ameobi’s wealth of experience and I respect his personality – for him to make himself available is fantastic,” said Keshi.

“I would love to have all my strikers available and Ameobi, Emmanuel Emenike, Brown Ideye and Victor Anichebe are all fantastic players.

“When we start selecting the squad to face Malawi, to have someone like Ameobi available is excellent for us.

“It is superb to have all these players available for our important games because it will help our quest for a World Cup ticket.”

Anichebe recently excused himself from the national team to concentrate on his club football with Everton. But sources close to the striker say he is now ready to resume his international career.

Keshi has been trying to get Anichebe to rescind the decision to shun the national team and the latest news would be music to his ears.

Nigeria’s leading striker at the Nations Cup, Emmanuel Emenike, is back in action after missing the World Cup qualifiers against Kenya and Namibia, as well as the Brazil 2013 Confederations Cup.

Keshi Assures the Super Eagles Will Make it to Brazil 2014.

keshi1Coach Stephen Keshi is focusing his energies on securing the 2014 World Cup ticket for the country.

He stated this after a three- hour, closed- door meeting in the office of the sport minister in Abuja on Tuesday. He said he has long put the triumph in South Africa behind him and is ready to work hand- in- hand with his employers, the Nigeria Football Federation, to achieve the aim of securing the Brazil 2014 World Cup ticket.
In attendance were the minister Bolaji Abdullahi, NFF president Aminu Maigari, chairman of NFF Technical Committee Chris Green, NFF director of competitions Mohammed Sanusi, Keshi and NFF assistant director (media) Ademola Olajire.
“I am happy to be back fully ready and focused on the big challenge of qualifying the Super Eagles for the 2014 FIFA World Cup finals,” Keshi said.
In the meeting, the sport minister charged the NFF leadership to forget the events of the past months and work very hard with the coach so as to succeed in achieving the set goal of reaching Brazil, next year summer.
“The triumph in South Africa was truly a delight and made Nigerians happy. But that feat will pale into insignificance if we fail to qualify for the 2014 FIFA World Cup finals,” he said.
“The principle behind this meeting is that the country is bigger than all of us. We must forget the little things that might have transpired which we did not like. We must forget personal injuries and be prepared to forge ahead.”
NFF President Aminu Maigari, in his remark, commended the minister for his efforts and commitment, saying, “South Africa 2013 was three month ago. In football, you are as good as your last result.
“We are all focused on the important task of qualifying Nigeria for the 2014 FIFA World Cup finals, and also to ensure that we do well at the FIFA Confederation Cup because we are representing the whole of the African continent.”