Keshi told us to prove him right – Mba

Warri Wolves striker Sunday Mba says the Super Eagles coach Stephen Keshi’s pep  talk with the players before the kick-off the South Africa 2013 Africa Cup of Nations  motivated  the team  to go the extra mile for the trophy.
Many dismissed the Eagles as no-hopers after Keshi named a 23-man squad largely made up of  domestic league and semi-professional players    for the championship.
And Keshi admitted that he had taken a big risk with his decision to exclude the likes of West Brom’s Osaze Odemwingie, on-loan Dynamo Kyiv’s Taye Taiwo,  Levante’s Obafemi Martins and Turkey-based Yussuf Ayila from the squad.
He said, “Football is a game of risks. At the 1990 Nations Cup when the likes of (Daniel) Amokachi came in, about 80 per cent  of the players were from the domestic league. It’s a risk worth taking.”
Mba, who scored the goal that helped Nigeria win their third continental title in South Africa – against Burkina Faso in the final–praised Keshi for believing in the team, despite facing criticism from some Nigerians.
“We trusted the decisions of the Big Boss (Keshi) and since he had confidence in the 23 of us selected, we knew that was the most important thing,” the 24-year-old told SuperSport during the week.
“Keshi always told us that the ball was in our court, and  to go out there and prove him right.  I am sure we did that. He told us that if we got good results at the tournament, no-one would criticise us,  and he was right.”
He said the coach’s motivating talk instilled confidence in the team when they engaged tournament favourites Ivory Coast in the quarterfinals.
 “I won’t use the word scared but we all knew it was not going to be an easy game.  We knew it would be tough,” Mba, who scored the winner in the 2-1 defeat of the Elephants, said.
“We knew that if we had scored two more goals against Ethiopia in our previous game we would have avoided the Ivorians but we also told ourselves that if we beat the Ivorians, the trophy would be ours.
“We fought for each other and played as a team. We believed that Ivory Coast were the strongest nation left in the competition and that if they were eliminated, no other team could stop us.”
“Unity was the key in that match. If we had not played as a team, the result could  have been different.”
Punch Nigeria

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