Super Eagles Head Coach Stephen Keshi has said he is willing to take a chance on players from the Nigeria league at the AFCON because it is worth it.
Keshi has picked six players from the NPL for this AFCON, a clear departure from the 2008 and 2010 tournaments when no player from the domestic league made the final squad.
Goalkeeper Chigozie Agbim, defenders Godfrey Oboabona, Azubuike Egwuekwe, midfielder Gabriel Reuben as well as forwards Sunday Mba and Ejike Uzoenyi play their football in the local league and have made the final cut for this competition in South Africa.
“Football is a game of risks. At the 1990 Nations Cup when the likes of Daniel Amokachi came in, about 80% of the players were from the local. It’s a risk worth taking,” declared Keshi, who has worked with these players since December 2011.
The former international skipper will not promise Nigeria a third Nations Cup trophy but said the team are confident and will give their best.
“I don’t want to promise Nigerians anything, I am not going to give any assurance but I will do my best with the team in South Africa,” he said.
“The level of discipline is great, good atmosphere. I hope the confidence will be sustained at the AFCON.
“If there is any pressure on me to perform at the Nations Cup, it is pressure from me not from any other quarters. We are not under any pressure to win.”
Keshi also stated that he hopes to again work with Portland Timber striker Bright Dike who he dropped from the AFCON final squad.
“Dike will be a good goal getter for Nigeria in the future. I dropped him because the time was short for me to impact on him as I wanted. It was difficult for me to name the 23-man squad,” Keshi admitted.