The Super Eagles coach has said the team played better than their last game and will get better in subsequent matches
By Ignat Manjoo at the Cape Town Stadium
Despite their goalless draw and just a point in two matches, Nigeria coach Stephen Keshi has said his side looked better against South Africa than in their defeat to Congo on Saturday.
The Super Eagles failed to fire and managed to avoid a consecutive loss as they bid to qualify for Morocco 2015 and defend their African title.
Almost a year to the date when they defeated Bafana to win the Nelson Mandela Challenge, Nigeria looked jaded as they failed to find the passes to open up their hosts who played with greater cohesion and almost got ahead late on.
“The game was not bad, I thought it was very good tactical play and a good play by Bafana,” said Keshi.
“A little bit of improvement from my players, a lot better than what we did on Saturday. We have not been together and it is taking time to gel. I’m not satisfied but I liked what I saw today.”
Responding to questions about the inability of striker Emmanuel Emenike to fire, Keshi said the Fenerbahce man will soon hit form.
“If a striker doesn’t play good, doesn’t mean he’s not good. You see players in Europe who go 15 games without a goal, doesn’t mean he’s not there. Emenike, I have to believe he is there. When he starts scoring he won’t stop scoring,” the coach said.
“Three months we have not played together. He plays in a different team with a different style, we need to come together and start playing our normal game.
“Hopefully by October we should be there. I’m happy with the performance today and I know it’d be much better as this is just 60% of our game.”
The 52-yearold also tried to shield off criticism of Chelsea midfielder John Obi Mikel who got into a few tackles and almost lost his cool in the second half.
Responding to questions whether lack of play time with the Blues might be responsible for the midfielder’s poor play of late, Keshi said: “It might (be). He’s not playing in his team, that doesn’t mean I cannot use him in my team.
“That is the coach’s choice not to play him in his team, but if my team is in good shape after a world of experience playing Champions League, he earned his place and he has to make the best of the situation.”
While still not sure about his future with Nigeria as his contract negotiations are still pending, Keshi refused to be drawn into his next steps seeing his side earn a lone point out of a possible six.
“What will I do after the game? I will probably go home and see my wife. Concentrate and see what I will do in the month of October,” Keshi concluded.
Nigeria are third in Group A after two matches behind unlikely leaders Congo (six points), South Africa (four points) and ahead of last placed Sudan who are yet to earn any point.