We are ready for Ethiopia, says Nigeria coach Stephen Keshi

Nigeria coach Stephen Keshi says that his team are ready for their must-win Africa Cup of Nations Group C tie against Ethiopia in Rustenburg on Tuesday.

Casting aside rumours about the security of his job, Keshi said that the Super Eagles will perform credibly in order to qualify for the quarter finals.

“We’ve been working very hard and talking to one another. The spirit is high in the camp and I like what I’m seeing in my players,” said Keshi at a press conference at the Royal Bafokeng Stadium.

“[The fans] just have to be patient, it’s going to be OK tomorrow. We’ve been a bit unlucky in the two games that we’ve played so far.

“The only thing I can tell Nigerian fans is that they don’t need to be worried, the boys are OK. They should just pray that there’ll be no injuries for the kids, so that they can come out and do their best tomorrow,” he said.

In both of the team’s previous matches, they have conceded late, something that has become a concern going into the game against Ethiopia. However, Keshi remained guarded.

“I don’t think there is any coach or any team that walks on to the pitch and wants to go home defeated – everybody wants to win.

“I’ve talked to my players, we’ve talked together and whatever we have to do is within us,” he said.

Keshi also admitted that he did not know much about Tuesday's opponents until he saw their first two games at the Afcon.

“Honestly speaking, the first time I saw [Ethiopia play] was against Zambia and then against Burkina Faso. I think they’re a wonderful side, they play beautiful football. It’s a team that likes to keep ball possession, and plays with a lot of confidence.”

Keshi also spoke about his side's disciplinary record, which have racked up five yellows and one red so far which could affect them if they win their game and Zambia also defeat Burkina Faso on Tuesday.

If both teams are tied on points and goal difference, one of the decisive options is to check the fair play status of both teams. But Keshi said that his team has not deserved all the cautions received in the two games so far.

“I’m not sure if all the yellow cards that were given were properly called out, because I’m not the referee. If the video can show it, they will probably take some cards back because they were not proper calls.

“It has happened, we just have to be conscious of what is out there. We just have to concentrate and play our game tomorrow,” Keshi said.

Nigeria will play Ethiopia for a chance to qualify for the quarter finals of the Afcon on Tuesday while Burkina Faso take on Zambia in Mbombela. All four teams have an opportunity of making it through to the last eight.

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