Nigeria coach Stephen Keshi is sure that the criticisms the Super Eagles have received in their build-up to the World Cup will stop after the match against the United States on Saturday.
The Eagles manager, in an interview monitored in Lagos on Thursday, said the players were now going through specific training programmes with the squad cut down to the exact 23 players billed to play in Brazil. He attributed the pattern of play exhibited so far by the players to the fact that they were just starting to train as a team.
He said, “We all just started training as a team last week. Now we have increased the intensity and the focus has shifted to specifics. We simply played against Scotland with little or no training having just arrived in town but the players are in better conditions now and responding well. We are facing a good team as we play the USA but I am sure people are going to see a much coordinated and purposeful team. The game will be better.”
The Eagles arrived in Jacksonville, Florida, from their Philadelphia base on Wednesday evening as preparations continue for the World Cup which kicks off on June 12. They are scheduled to play a friendly against the United States in Jacksonville.
On Thursday Ahmed Musa and Elderson Echejile trained separately as they gradually recover from injuries they sustained in the friendly against Greece last Tuesday. Echejile was due for a scan on his thigh muscle later on Thursday while Juwon Oshaniwa was said to be recovering from malaria. Overall, Keshi gave the physical condition of the entire squad as encouraging and above ninety per cent.
The team captain, Joseph Yobo, said he was hopeful of a superb outing for the team in Brazil. Lazio of Italy midfielder, Ogenyi Onazi, corroborated what the captain said.
Yobo said, “We have to give our all in the tourney because in future people will ask us ‘When you were playing, what did you achieve?’ We have won the Nations Cup, now is the time to aim for the big one.”
It was not clear if aiming for the big one meant winning the trophy or getting to the last eight at least.
Onazi added, “Yes, they say we have not been scoring many goals but these are preparatory games, when we come to the tournament proper they will see the real Nigeria national team.”