Nigeria coach Stephen Keshi revealed in an interview published in the team brochure for the tournament ahead of his side’s Group F World Cup opener against Iran today in Curitiba, reasons why the country failed in previous World Cups.
The former Togo coach was pragmatic in his speech, and stated that lack of prioritising caused Nigeria’s failures in the past, stressing that for any nation to thrive at such a big stage, they must always focus on “immediate challenge”, take each game as it comes and not pile undue pressure on the team by thinking of the third match while they have not played the first.
Nigeria was eliminated from France 1998, after they switched off to a potential quarter-final clash against Brazil, when they played Denmark in the second round. The result was a 4-1 loss. In 1994, they were dumped out only in the second round.
“Both situations were unfortunate,” Keshi said.
“That is why you must always focus on your immediate challenge. We definitely lost due to inexperience in 1994. Here in Brazil, we have a mixture of youth and experience. We are ready to fly.”
However, Keshi has promised Nigerians that this time around in Brazil, the Super Eagles will make amelioration for the past, and take each match as it comes to avert psychological and undue anxiety.
“Today as I speak, I know we are going to play Iran on June 16. There are two other matches in the group phase, against Bosnia-Herzegovina and Argentina, but our focus for now is what we must achieve against Iran in Curitiba, Keshi added.
Keshi also expressed colossal confidence and belief in his players, stating that his team will employ the perfect “formula” and he expects Nigeria to go as far as possible in the competition.
“There would have been no reason to take part in the qualifying series if we didn’t believe we would make it to the finals, and there would have been no reason to prepare so hard for the finals if we knew we were only coming to Brazil to make up the number.
“I have a group of players who believe in themselves. They want to go as far as they can in Brazil, and the formula we will employ is to look at what is immediately in front of us and focus and plan on how to tackle it.”