Stephen Keshi has called up some new players for the Super Eagles’ World Cup qualifying match against Kenya. The Eagles coach who called up the relatively unknown players has defended his decision to give them a shot, saying they are good and only need to be encouraged to shine.
Two of the surprise call-ups by Keshi are Michael Babatunde from Ukrainian club Kryvbas and John Ogu of Academica de Coimbra.
“I have watched Michael Babatunde play; he is going to be a fantastic player and so too John Ogu and we have a lot of them outside there, young ones that are hungry to play for this country that you guys need to help build,” Keshi said.
“You guys need to give them courage and confidence that they can do it. We can’t keep relying on older players every day and we say we want to move forward; let us have people that will take over when this group leaves.
“Every player in that squad is good so we need to prepare ourselves in a way that we can be better in the game on March 23. The most important thing is for my team to understand and know their role, task or function probably we will be good.” •
Contrary to reports, Keshi said the list of the players invited for World Cup qualifying match with Kenya did not generate any form of disagreement within the technical committee of the NFF.
Former members of the technical committee Austel Elumelu and Paul Bassey had expressed reservations over the invitation of some players to the camp. They had argued that the technical committee needed to see a player’s profile before he is invited to the national team.
Keshi, however, said that the NFF had scrutinised the list before it was made public.
“There was nothing like that between NFF and I over the list. We made the list and gave to the NFF and it is there position to let it out to the public and there was never a problem.
“NFF and I don’t have a problem. We need to be together to move this team forward otherwise there is no rift between us.
“We should forget what happened in South Africa, we need to look forward to the game on March 23 against Kenya. “
“That is the most crucial match for us now and we need to be focused and make Nigerian proud.”