The coach of the Nigerian Super Eagles, Stephen Keshi, has said he was not surprised by his ream poor showing in the first match of the African Cup of Nations qualifier played at the U. J. Esuene stadium in Calabar.
The 3-2 loss suffered by the team has put in the third position in the group that also contains Congo, Sudan and South Africa. South Africa leads Group A followed by Congo while Sudan sits at the bottom.
“I’m very disappointed. It was not just the result but the way we played in the first half. I was like a soothsayer because I saw it coming and I talked to the boys that they had to be aggressive and first to the ball.
“I’ve played against the Congolese team before and I know they play tip-tap football. We scored the first goal and that was it. It’s a shame that we had opportunities, mostly in the second half, but we could not score,” Keshi said immediately after the game.
Keshi said he tried to motivate the players in the dressing room in a bid to restore pride but admitted that his team was frustrated by the defensive and delay tactics of their opponents.
“I told them (players) they were not playing their game. They were not themselves, they were not playing, they were second to the ball and they needed to change the mentality. They came back in the second half and you could see the difference. But if you are playing a team like this, they are going to come hard and park the bus. And that’s what they did in the second half. Who won’t do it?
“I can understand the frustration, the Congolese team delaying the game, killing the game. It became an anger problem and its part of the game.
“It’s football. Brazil lost 7-1 and we lost today (Saturday). Everybody is going to lose someday. We cannot win all the games all the time. This is where we need the media and Nigerians. They have to be behind the team, so that we can go to South Africa and win”