If there’s any group of people a lot Nigerians envy now, it’s the Super Eagles. They’ve been rewarded handsomely for their impressive feat at the 2013 African Cup of Nations, AFCON, and bringing home the trophy. The Super Eagles has however revealed that the team thrived on criticisms and the criticisms motivated them to success.
The Super Eagles were unimpressive in their first two games and were ridiculed by many referring to them as “Super Chicken” while tweets from an account believed to belong to Ivorian defender, Emmanuel Eboue referred to them as “Super Fried Chicken”.
Speaking at a Tom Tom Round table with the media, Keshi said that he couldn’t understand “how a team I captained for 14 years has suddenly become so weak that people will call the players Super Chicken.”
“I challenged the players to rise up and prove people wrong and change this ridiculous name from a team that used to be a power-house in African football.
“It was emotional and the challenge sunk into the players deeply. But I must tell you the boys were awesome. Another factor that brought out the best from the players, too, was from team Secretary, Dayo Enebi. He approached the players to ask them their destination before the Cote d’ Ívoire game because he wanted to book flights for them.
“The money had been provided for that. The boys were angry and told him to leave them alone because they would beat Cote d’Ivoire” Although, Sports ministry denied this, ex-international, Jonathan Akpoborie said on SuperSports it was the usual practice of national teams during the knock-out stages of any tournament.
Keshi admitted that the game against Cote d’Ivoire was purely tactical, and the team went all out to subdue them.
“After Ethiopia, we used three days to plan for Cote d’Ivoire. We analysed the players and their team. We found out that even though they had good players, they did not play like a team. So, we fashioned a play that ensured that Kalou, Yaya Toure and Gervinho had no time on the ball. That was why they could not get the ball to Drogba”.
Keshi disclosed how tensed he was during the final match, especially because he was facing a team that is known for scoring late goals, and his team had once been a victim.
“I was a little bit tensed just like any other game. When you realize that we played the same team and conceded a last minute equalizer you are bound to feel that way. But I tried to tell the boys that it was almost over and they should try to kill the game. After the game we were overwhelmed with emotions.
“But I must say that we celebrated the victory over Cote d’Ivoire as if it was the final. In the last game we celebrated too, but it was not as emotional as the time we beat Cote d’Ivoire. We went into the game against Burkina Faso knowing that we would beat them”.