Nigeria coach Stephen Keshi has expressed his disappointments about his side’s lacklustre performance against Congo in the 3-2 2015 Africa Cup of Nations (Afcon) qualifier loss in Calabar on Saturday.
The Super Eagles’ lack of inspiration in the UJ
Esuene Stadium pitch cost them the chance to mount early pressure on Group A leaders South Africa, who won 3-0 in Sudan less than 24 hours earlier.
Keshi and his wards left the country on Sunday for the second of the group stage qualifier in South Africa scheduled for Wednesday and the 52-year-old insists Nigerians most continue to rally behind the team, as they bid to earn a vital 3 points in Cape Town.
“It’s football. Brazil lost 7-1 and we lost (on Saturday). Everybody is going to lose someday. We cannot win all the games all the time. This is where we need the media and Nigerians. They have to be behind the team, so that we can go to South Africa and win,” said a disappointed Keshi.
“I’m very disappointed. It was not just the result but the way we played in the first half. I was like a soothsayer because I saw it coming and I talked to the boys that they had to be aggressive and first to the ball.”
The loss saw the ‘Diable Rouge’ tie Nigeria on head-to-head (W3, L3, D2), and also was the hosts’ first in a competitive home game since 1981.
The ex-Nigeria international was captain in the early 90s when the Green Eagles beat the same side in Point Noir and Lagos in a 1994 World Cup qualifier.
Keshi lamented his side’s poor tactical approach in the first-half as well as their inability to convert chances. Moreover, he says the Eagles were frustrated by the Congolese in the second-half, despite their new-found aggression on the forward line.
“I’ve played against the Congolese team before and I know they play tip-tap football. We scored the first goal and that was it. It’s a shame that we had opportunities, mostly in the second half, but we could not score, Keshi said.
“I told them (players) they were not playing their game. They were not themselves, they were not playing, they were second to the ball and they needed to change the mentality.
“They came back in the second half and you could see the difference. But if you are playing a team like this, they are going to come hard and park the bus. And that’s what they did in the second half. Who won’t do it?
“I can understand the frustration, the Congolese team delaying the game, killing the game. It became an anger problem and its part of the game.”