Mambas of Mozambique Head Coach, Joao Chisano yesterday assessed the chances of the teams in group A of the ongoing African Nations Championship (CHAN) and came to the conclusion that Nigeria is the most pressured of all the teams, even as Nigerian Head Coach Stephen Okechukwu Keshi, said his boys can handle the pressure.
Chisano, whose team is sharing the same Garden Court De Waal Hotel with the Eagles said he made the assertion because his team if beaten by the Eagles have nothing to lose but the reverse will be the case if Nigeria are to lose to his side. “The Eagles are the big brothers in Africa, the African champions and the coach is the African Coach of the Year, we don’t have any of those accolades, so pressure is on Nigeria not Mozambique.”
On likely qualifiers from the group, Chisano said even if his side are beaten on Wednesday, the Eagles still has an uphill task against Bafana Bafana on Sunday. “With their massive fans and the Vivuzelas, Nigeria will again be under pressure to perform as African Champions.”
The youthful coach said he will, however, not be surprised if his team was eliminated from the first round, because according to him the pitch in Cape Town is very poor and that accounted for his side’s 3-1 loss to the host in the opening match. He also said he’s looking to build a strong side in the future that his countrymen will be proud of.
Stephen Keshi believed his charges received a baptism of fire in their Group A opening match of the African Nations Championship (Chan) against Mali in Cape Town and will bounce back in the next round.
“The pressure was massive and I expected this type of happening, but I am certain they (Nigeria) now know they have to satisfy themselves and have confidence in themselves,” Keshi said after losing 2-1 to Mali on Saturday.
“We have lost the opening game and we have to forget that and fight for qualification from the remaining two games.”
Keshi said the players were desperate, not only to convince himself and the technical crew of their potentials, but also the majority of Nigerians and the world that they could be part of the World Cup party.
He said most of the players were on the big stage for the first time and it showed in the manner in which they played.
The reigning African Coach of The Year told his team, during the interval, to loosen up and enjoy their game instead of trying so hard to impress.
“The team will definitely got better in the second half,” Keshi said.
Defence kingpin Azubuike Egwuekwe said his teammates needed to wake up to the reality of playing on the big stage.
“We didn’t play well at all [against Mali] and we all know it but we have decided that we will come back stronger and better. I plead with Nigerians to give us another opportunity, “ Egwuekwe said.
Ejike Uzoenyi, who was impressive on the wing, said experience counted in the game against Mali but assured fans all hope was not lost. “We will be back and better in the next game” Uzoenyi said.