RWANDA COACH: KESHI IS UNDER PRESSURE TO BEAT US
Posted: Jun 15, 2012
Rwanda coach Milutin ‘Micho’ Sredojovic told JOHNNY EDWARD his team will not be intimidated when they face the Super Eagles in a Nations Cup qualifier in Calabar on Saturday, insisting that it is the Nigerians who need to win more.
Do you think the Amavubi stand any chance of edging out the Eagles for a place in the group stage of the 2013 Africa Nations Cup?
First of all, if we did not believe in ourselves, we woudn’t waste money on our tickets to come here and play the game. We are here with a positive mind- and that is to get the much needed result. On the other hand, we will approach the game against Nigeria with huge respect because they see themselves as giants in African football. I fell in love with Nigerian football years back, watching the late RashidiYekini score the country’s first ever goal at the 1994 World Cup in USA. We have so many reasons to respect the Eagles but we won’t over respect them. When the referee blows his whistle for the commencement of the game, we will do battle for 90 minutes and after that, me and my good friends in the Nigerian coaching crew will become friends again because we cannot achieve good results if we don’t respect each other first. We will play an open game because anything is possible, and we need to score if we must qualify. The game is still goalless and both teams still stand a chance of qualifying for the next round. Nigeria and Rwanda are in a similar situation because we both are rebuilding our senior national teams to return to their rightful place in football. So, we are at par at the moment.
Your team needs a scoring draw or an outright win which is a tall dream. Again, you will be missing your most potent striker in Elias Nzamakunda for the encounter, how do you intend to achieve this target?
We are very handicapped with his absence and other players who are not here at the moment with us, but whoever is not here, we have no reason to cry about them. I believe in the boys that are here in Nigeria to face the Super Eagles. Our current team can churn out a good performance to get us into the 2013 Nations Cup finals. I’m fully aware that if we are coming to defend, the Super Eagles will roast us as chicken feed, but we are here to play an open game , defend very well and counter-attack swiftly as a team that want to win. We have our plans just as Keshi and his team are planning for us too. I have read in the papers of how he is trying to boost his team by saying they’ll whip Rwanda. I respect him as a great player and he’s a great coach who qualified Togo to the 2006 World Cup, but to me, it just shows how much pressure he is under at the moment. From the point of the results he achieved lately, it’s hard to believe that Nigeria face the danger of not qualifying for the Africa Nations Cup for a second consecutive time. The pressure is too much on him at the moment and I feel sorry for him.
From a coach’s perspective, do you think the Eagles are in decline at the moment?
I want to tell you it’s not correct to say that the Eagles under Keshi,who is rebuilding, are declining. Because when he is building, it means that he is progressing. Nigerians should be calm with him. He is taking the first step on the way to recovery because at the moment, it’s very hard to score against them and that’s one positive thing I have noticed since he took over the team. Except for the game against Egypt where the largely home-based side conceded three goals, there has not been a game where the Eagles conceded more than one goal. One the other side, they have problems in attack because they are not scoring to the best of their potential. It’s always going to be difficult to stop Eagles’ attacking threat because they are blessed with the best set of attacking players on the continent playing in Russia, Ukraine, England, Spain and other parts of the world. It’s their culture being an attacking football nation. I know Nigeria have a number of unbelievable talents in that position because the football culture is to attack. We shall however do everything possible to stop the Eagles from scoring even if they paradeJohn Utaka, Victor Moses and Ike Uche in attack. We must answer all the questions the Eagles ask on the pitch as a team, and not allow them to settle. With all due respect to the Eagles defence, we shall look for a way to break them down because I believe the pressure is on the host team on Saturday.
With your knowledge of the Nigerian team, are you not comfortable that the Eagles have only scored two goals in three competitive games under Keshi and secondly, which player do you think must be stopped on Saturday?
I won’t speak about the individuals here because that’s my joker for my team. I will rather tell you that we shall do everything possible to stop the Eagles attack from scoring. Whether Keshi starts Victor Moses, JohnUtaka, Ike Uche and the local player EjikeUzoenyi in the attack, we will try to stop them.
In seven games Keshi has only mustered two wins, three draws and two losses. Do you think he should be allowed on the job if he fails to qualify Nigeria for the Nations Cup?
Look… I feel it’s not right to talk about this because I’m also a coach who is paid to deliver results.
Coaches all the time have their bags half packed. The fear of missing out on the Nations Cup in two straight editions is putting the coach on an edge but whoever does not love pressure should get a job in fishing. It’s our destiny and in respect to my dear colleague and gentleman Keshi, I won’t comment further on this because they are already positive that they will beat Amavubi. Even me, I’m positive about what will happen and I pray that we will be lucky at some point on Saturday. But I can assure Nigerians that they’ll see a good game because my team will be up to the task to face a very good Super Eagles side.
But you are also experiencing such pressure having not won in seven games since the Eritrea win?
Just like Keshi, I’m under pressure and my bags are half packed in Kigali. But no matter how hard the pressure comes to me, I don’t allow it get to me because I believe in destiny. I don’t want to be a fisherman and that’s why I’m ready to parade a good team to keep my job against Nigeria. I will do all I can to see that we triumph but whatever happens, I will accept it.
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