FIFA Confederations Cup: We were beaten, not disgraced, says Keshi


KESHI AT CONFED CUPNigeria’s head coach Stephen Keshi was full of praises for his team in spite of their 1-2 loss to hard-fighting Uruguay on Thursday.

The match was their second group B match in Salvador, Brazil, at the ongoing 2013 FIFA Confederations Cup.

Although he lamented the missed scoring chances, he said the Super Eagles were beaten, not disgraced.

“We gave the game our all but you know Uruguay has been together for six years and we are just rebuilding.

“Sooner than later, we will catch up with the rest of the best teams in the world,’’ Keshi vowed.

“I cannot question the loyalty and commitment of the players. They won my heart. I am sure they have done the same to most people who appreciate good football.

“I am looking forward to our encounter with the world’s best team on Sunday,’’ he told journalists at a crowded post-match news conference, in reference to Spain.

Keshi later told the PANA correspondent covering the match that he was aware that his players might have been disappointed by the result of the match.

He promised to work hard to lift their spirit ahead of Sunday’s game against world champion Spain, which is bound to arouse global attention.

Keshi thanked the Brazilian fans for supporting the Super Eagles, Africa’s representatives at the eight-nation tournament, in the match against Uruguay, and expressed the hope that such support would be repeated during Sunday’s game.

Looking beyond the Confederations Cup, Keshi said the future is bright for the Super Eagles.

“I will only appeal for co-operation from everyone so that we work together, especially the media, the football federation, fellow coaches, players and fans,’’ he said.

Keshi said he has been trying to build a team that will stand the test of time, hence the preference for younger players.

Also commenting on the match, Super Eagles’ stand-in skipper and goalkeeper Vincent Enyeama, who on Thursday night had his 82nd international appearance admitted that the team’s recent tight schedule, coupled with flying long distances in the last three weeks, had weakened the players.

He said fatigue was a major factor in the loss to Uruguay on Thursday, and expressed the hope that his colleagues would dramatically build up their stamina to enable them get past Spain, as their predecessors did at France ’98 World Cup.

Another Nigerian player – Anthony Ujah – who sat on the bench throughout the match, also made the same claim.

Ujah, an FC Köln forward in the German Bundesliga, said it had not been easy travelling long distances and playing competitive matches.

PANA reports that the Super Eagles flew 11 hours from their camp in Germany to Houston, U.S., for a friendly encounter with Mexico, and then made a return trip the next day covering the same distance before another six-hour flight to high-altitude Kenya for a scheduled World Cup qualifier.

That was followed by another flight to Namibia, then South Africa for a tiring 11-hour trans-Atlantic flight to Sao Paulo in Brazil, for the Confederations Cup.




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