Just moments after their 2013 Africa Cup of Nations triumph on Sunday night, Nigeria’s Super Eagles made their point plain that they will not sit on their laurels and their focus will immediately switch to the 2014 World Cup qualifiers.
Speaking after edging Burkina Faso’s Stallions to win their third Nations Cup showpiece, Nigeria coach Stephen Keshi said his side cannot afford the luxury of taking it easy. He said they have more juicy ambitions of qualifying for the 2014 World Cup to be staged in Brazil.
Keshi also cited the Flames as the potential stumbling block in his side’s quest to qualify for the global showcase.
“There are teams such as Malawi and Namibia that could put the spanners in our works. We need to be cautious,” Keshi told the media on Sunday.
Flames assistant coaches Ernest Mtawali and Patrick Mabedi, who watched the final match together, said while the Nigerians have a good side, they are not a team from another planet.
“If you take the game to them, they lose steam and their defence is also vulnerable, but I should also state that they are dangerous operating from the flanks through their wingers Sunday Mba and Victor Moses. John Mikel Obi is also dangerous operating from centre,” said Mtawali.
On his part, Mabedi said: “If we could close them down in the wings and try to catch them off-guard on counter-attacks, we could get a result in Nigeria.”
Tough-as-a-teak defender Limbikani Mzava also played down Nigeria’s fairytale run in the competition.
“We cannot run away from the fact that they are a star-studded team, but at times they fail to play as a unit and we could capitalise on that,” he said.
Nigeria top Flames’ World Cup qualifying Group F with four points from two games, two ahead of Malawi who are on third position. Namibia’s Brave Warriors are second with three points while Kenya’s Harambee Stars anchor the group with a single point also from two games each.