By James Agberebi:
Nigeria coach Stephen Keshi has predicted a tough match between the Super Eagles and Bafana Bafana of South Africa in tomorrow’s 2015 AFCON qualifier in Uyo, Completesportsnigeria.com reports.
“I told my boys after (Monday’s only) training session that the win against Congo (last Saturday) is now history. They must focus on the next game (against South Africa).
‘Now, I have told the players to forget about that game and plan for the next game against South Africa who will come here and look to make things very difficult for us.
“South Africa is here now and they will want nothing more than defeating us here in our backyard…in front of our fans,” Keshi exclusively told supersport.com.
Keshi went on to deny claims that he will be going all out for revenge against South Africa following his failure to be appointed as coach of the 1996 AFCON champions.
“I have heard people say that I have a special grudge towards South Africa….that I was supposed to coach their national team and will want to defeat them by all means to prove a point. Untrue.
“In fact these stories shock me because I see this (game against South Africa) as any other game.
“I have utmost respect for the South African people. I also respect their national team and in fact, our Mandela trophy is one of our most prized possessions. Their coach Shakes Mashaba is a good friend and whom I would question if he was not coming here to win. But he is and this is great for African Football. ‘
“I have nothing against them and it’s the gospel truth.
“As a professional and I know that if I lead my team to a win against the South Africans on Wednesday, I would have guided my country to a place at the 2015 Afcon and that is what I will be gunning for,” he said.
The former Mali and Togo trainer however knows Saturday’s win against Congo in Pointe-Noire was crucial to Nigeria’s hopes of qualifying for the 2015 AFCON and identified Vincent Enyeama’s decisive stop off Thievy Bifouma’s second half penalty as “the defining moment in the game”.
“When the referee (Ghead Grisha) awarded the penalty, I turned to (assistant coach), Daniel (Amokachi) on the bench and told him that Enyeama would save it.
“It was the first time I had felt that way as a coach. That save was the defining moment in the game because if they scored at that time, it would have been very very difficult for us.