Nigeria coach Stephen Keshi says he intends to go to the World Cup finals in June with the team he has been building over the last two years.
The Afcon-winning coach has been under pressure from some fans, pundits and top officials of the country’s FA, to invite a number of in-form former internationals as well as some emerging stars, but insists he will not be playing to the gallery.
“We have been trying to build a team since the past two years when I came on board, so I don’t see any reason why we have to tear the team apart by looking for newer faces to make some people satisfied,” Keshi said in Abuja.
However the former Super Eagles skipper vowed to select only the best legs from the current pool to build a team that can make Nigeria and Africa proud. He also noted that being a part of the team that triumphed at the 2013 Nations Cup is no guarantee of a place in the World Cup squad.
“We have a pool of players already on ground, and all that we need to do is to continue building on that, but it doesn’t mean that if you were in the team when we won Nations Cup that you must be in the team to the World Cup.” Keshi explained.
“If I see anybody better than you, I will take him. Sorry it is not for me, it is for the country and for Africa because we are going there to defend Africa, to defend Nigeria and to defend our pride. So there are a lot of things at stake and I will not negotiate for that.”
The Nigeria Football Federation had asked Keshi for a 35-man provisional list for the global showpiece which the body said he would be expected to defend, but he insisted afterwards that he would only submit a 30-man list – as required by FIFA.
Even then, Keshi said he would do so when he is ready.
Nigeria open their campaign against Iran on June 16, before games against Bosnia-Herzegovina and Argentina .
The African champions regroup on May 26 in London two days before a friendly match with Scotland. The Eagles will also tackle Greece and the USA in more friendlies before heading to Brazil for the World Cup on June 11.