Super Eagles coach Stephen Keshi has admitted his team's poor performance at the start of their 2014 African Nations Championship qualifying match against the Elephants of Ivory Coast which led to them conceding two quick goals.
Goals in the fifth and 25 minutes from Sewe Sport striker Kevin Zougloula looked like they would set the tone for Nigeria’s elimination from the competition, but the Eagles fought back in the second half to deny their hosts the decisive third goal.
“If you say it was a game of two halves I may tend to agree with you. Because we started poorly largely due to experience and then when we came into the game they struggled against us, but that is football, we are just grateful to God, the NFF and Nigerians that we made it for the first time to the CHAN tournament,” Keshi said.
Ivory Coast coach Saraka Norbert, on the other hand, said Nigeria were more experienced than his side and that earned them qualification to next year’s CHAN.
“Nigeria is a great country economically, socially and even in football. We must admit that when we get to their heights in the near future, Ivorian football will be great again,” he said.
Norbert again reiterated his love for the Nigerian coach, whom he once again described as an Ivorian and wished him well in his future endeavours.
A former assistant coach of the Super Eagles, Fatai Amoo, commended the team for their feat as he expressed hope that Nigeria’s success at the CHAN finals next year will further place the domestic league in international focus.
“That qualification is something special for Nigerian football. We’ve just won the Africa Cup of Nations and now we’ve qualified for CHAN; it means there are players from the domestic league that should be reckoned with,” the Sunshine Stars coach told our correspondent on the telephone on Sunday.
The team’s next assignment is the Mandela Challenge contest against the Bafana Bafana of South Africa in Durban in August.
Meanwhile, Nations Cup winner Sunday Mba said he was unlucky in Abidjan not to have scored. He, however, expressed his joy that the team qualified for the tournament.