The coach of the Super Eagles, Stephen Keshi has revealed that he used the name ‘Super Chickens’ that his team was mocked with to bring out the best in his players all the way to winning the Nations Cup in South Africa earlier this month.
The Super Eagles had a bumpy ride to winning the trophy, with their first two games unimpressive, which led people to tag them ‘Super Chickens’, and the Ivorien star, Emmanuel Eboue even going further to name them ‘Super Fried Chickens’.
Speaking at a Tom Tom Round table with the media, Keshi said that he couldn’t understand how a team he captained for 14 years has suddenly become so weak that people will call the players Super Chicken.
“I challenged the players to rise up and prove people wrong and change this ridiculous name from a team that used to be a power-house in African football. It was emotional and the challenge sunk deeply into the players. But I must tell you, the boys were awesome.”
Another factor that motivated the players to perform at their best, Keshi revealed, was when the team secretary, Dayo Enebi approached the players prior to the quarter-final match against Ivory Coast to ask them their destinations because he wanted to book flights for them as the money had been approved for it already.
This made the players angry as they told him to leave them alone because they would beat Ivory Coast.
The Sports Ministry however has denied buying tickets for the players before the quarter-final match.
Keshi admitted that the game against Ivory Coast was purely tactical, with a lot of discipline to subdue them especially that only three days were used to plan for Ivory Coast after the last group game against Ethiopia.
“We analysed the players and their team. We found out that even though they had good players, they did not play like a team. So, we fashioned a play that ensured that Kalou, Yaya Toure and Gervinho had no time on the ball. That was why they could not get the ball to Drogba”
When asked on his feelings during and after the final match, Keshi admitted to being a little bit tensed just like any other game.
“When you realize that we played the same team and conceded a last minute equalizer you are bound to feel that way.But I tried to tell the boys that it was almost over and they should try to kill the game. After the game we were overwhelmed with emotions.
But I must say that we celebrated the victory over Cote d’Ivoire as if it was the final. In the last game we celebrated too, but it was not as emotional as the time we beat Cote d’Ivoire. We went into the game against Burkina Faso knowing that we would beat them”.