Africa Cup of Nations: Keshi drops nine ahead of Liberia clash
KANO Pillars central defender, Papa Idris was the biggest casualty at the weekend as the national team’s technical crew headed by Stephen Keshi gradually zeroes in on a final list of players that will tackle Liberia in this weekend’s Nations Cup final round qualifier in Monrovia.
Idris along with eight others were dropped after lunch on Saturday, with Keshi assuring them that they should not be dejected as they will soon be recalled when the team returns from Liberia. “Just ensure that all you learnt here is not wasted and continue to feature regularly for your club side, so that we will have reasons to recall you. Many of those who are here with us now have been dropped and recalled several times”, he admonished the departing players.
The Pillars defender who has been battling a knee injury for sometimes now is joined on the sidelines by Heartland of Owerri duo of Benjamin Francis and Kabiru Umar, Saviour Fidelis of Taraba FC, Rising Stars, Henry Ezekiel, Christian Ofili of ABS FC, Chibuzor Onyekwelu of Fame FC, Femi Ajayi of Crown FC and Rangers International’s Ogochukwu Ugonna.
The players have since left the Bolton White Apartment of the team, as the 10 Europe based players invited are expected to start arriving Nigeria from Sunday evening.
Earlier on Saturday, the national team defeated a highly impressive, Abuja Football College 4-1, with Keshi describing the amateur side as one of the best sides his team has played against of recent. The highly entertaining encounter played under rains at the Abuja FIFA Goal Project saw the Eagles forced to some desperate defending in the early part of the encounter. Theophilus Solomon, Mark Tanko. Collins Jamilu and Philip Ikeocha, gave the national team food for thought with their organizational play and precision passes.
Sunday Mba, however brought experience to bear, when he raced clear to tap home the first goal after Ajayi and Sani Sanusi had ran the Academy side’s defence ragged. This was in the 17th minute and it was the only goal of the half.
Ajayi added a second in the 50th minute, after Juwon Oshaniwa powerful run from the left. Then there was a momentary loss of concentration by Philip Asuquo which gifted the youthful side a goal five minutes later through the hard working Theophilus Solomon in the 55th minute.
The 3SC schemer was to make up for the error by having a hand in the last two goals of the national team both of them scored by Fidelis Saviour in the 65th and 75th minutes. Keshi said after the encounter that he was impressed by the opposition’s organizational abilities, declaring that his side benefitted from the game.
Croatian Coach of the side, Bozidar Matjevic, said the Eagles did not play well in the first half but upped their game in the second with flawless passes. “If they continue like that they can defeat any team in the world, but they have to start early to take their chances”, he said.
Foreign-based Eagles arrive tomorrow – Written by Lanre Olabisi
FOREIGN-BASED Super Eagles players invited for the 2013 Africa Cup of Nations qualifying match against Liberia in Monrovia on September 8, are expected in camp tomorrow.
Eagles assistant coach, Ike Shorunmu in a chat with Tribunesports said the technical crew are expecting the players latest tomorrow morning to join the home-based lad.
“There is high expectation in camp ahead the Nations Cup qualifier against Liberia and everybody is in high spirit for the encounter.
“The bulk of the foreign-based players are expected tomorrow to join the home-based in camp for the final lap of our training toward the match,” he said.
When asked of what to expect from the team, Ike Anobi as he is fondly called by admirer said the coaching crew headed by Stephen Keshi and the entire players knew the importance of the match and are ready to do what is necessary to win the game.
Those expected are Vincent Enyeama, Joseph Yobo,Efe Ambrose, Elderson Echiejile, Nosa Igiebor, Obiora Nwankwo.
Other are Victor Moses, Ahmed Musa, Ikechukwu Uche, Emmanuel Emenike and Brown Ideye.