Super Eagles coach, Stephen Keshi, speaks with journalists at the team’s camp in Calabar, Cross River State, ahead of the September 6, AFCON qualifier against DR Congo. MUDIAGA AFFE was there
Are you still expecting more players to fly in?
Not really, except for a few. All those that needed to be here are all here. Vincent Enyeama and two others have been excused. Chinedu Obasi has problems with his club. Emenike, too.
Are you feeling the absence of these players?
I would not say so. The players in camp can equally do the job. We have to concentrate with the ones we see on ground.
Please explain Enyeama’s absence.
Vincent Enyeama and I have spoken. He has an issue he has to solve. I can’t bring him here knowing that without solving that issue it would be a distraction to him. In subsequent matches, I think that he will be here. For now, Austin Ejide takes his place.
What is your view of Saturday’s encounter between Nigeria and DR Congo?
Saturday is going to be good for Nigeria.
Psychologically, do you think the ongoing NFF crisis affects you and the team?
Honestly, that is not something we should bring into the team. All we need now is to be focused in order to make Nigerians and ourselves proud.
What about the exclusion of Victor Moses, can you explain?
Moses, up till now, is going through some rough times. Three days ago, we spoke. I think he is getting better. I’m happy he is getting back into football life. You will see him in subsequent matches.
Nigerians are of the view that you are about the most successful national football coach yet. What do you think can be done to keep you in order to have a very strong Super Eagles?
Good question but this is not the time for me to answer it. Let me finish the two qualifying matches against DR Congo and South Africa before I speak.
Why was Ikechukwu Uche not invited for this match?
Well, his name was originally on the list. But he said he needed somebody to plead with him before he can come and play for his country. And I have told him I cannot do that. I therefore had to replace him with somebody else.
Before the World Cup, you told Nigerians that you were embarking on the journey of rebuilding the Super Eagles, are you done with that?
Indeed, rebuilding is a process that can take some months and years. This is because you will keep adding and subtracting. There will be the usual checks and balances. When we came on board there was nothing on ground. This is why we are still in that process of building, especially with a crop of new players. For us to have been at the last Nations Cup and the World Cup was pure miracle from God. People might counter and say what is he talking about but I know what I am talking about.
You are being courted by many countries. What happened to the South African offer? Do you have offers from countries?
I will disclose that later.
It would appear some Nigerians were not comfortable with the team you took to the World Cup, were you satisfied?
Nigerians believe too much in big names. We think it is the big names that will do the job for us. Nigerians should learn to be patient. The younger ones too need to grow and be confident. The so-called big names came from somewhere. Somebody gave them opportunities. Maybe Nigerians want all their players to fall from heaven.
In your active playing days you were considered a strong character in the national team. Now do you have another Stephen Keshi in your team?
I have seen some of them but I won’t name them. They need to work harder. But sometimes this thing is natural. You don’t have to learn it.
The atmosphere was not very clear if you were going to be in Calabar but you are here without any contract with the NFF
First of all, this is my country. If I was not ready to handle the team for these two games (DR Congo and South Africa) I would not be here. No one would have forced me to come down from America. I had to come because there are some very good Nigerians that talked to me frankly. And I had to respect them as ‘big authorities’. Otherwise, I would have stayed back with my family. Members of the team, too, have also been persuasive, urging me to return. I know how much they wanted all of us to be together. It is good to be here.
It is important for each one of us to do our assigned professional tasks well without interference. Nobody should come into my job and I will not come into yours. If nobody comes to look into my job I will do it well, likewise you.