Monday, March 24, 2014

Kpakor bets on Nigeria's birds

pic courtesy
Former Nigeria international midfielder Moses Kpakor has emphatically stated that the Super Eagles of Nigeria will have a decent outing at the 2014 Fifa World Cup in June.

Kpakor, who spoke exclusively to 9jafooty, is of the opinion that a lot of things that usually hamper Nigeria's progress at various World Cups are being taken care of before the tournament starts.

The diminutive midfielder, who made his name with the defunct BCC Lions of Gboko, is optimistic Nigeria will finally win a group game since the last win at France in 1998.

"I'm sure we will do better than the previous two editions we attended when we failed to win any group game. The setting makes me feel the hoodoo will be broken," Kpakor enthused.

"Keshi has been able to instill that self belief and confidence in the squad and we should also remember we are heading to Brazil as African Champions, that should surely count for something.

"I believe the boys will put in their best when the party begins. Nigerians should support the team as much as they can.

Kpakor, who was part of the African Cup of Nations Silver medal winning team at Algiers 1990, was full of praise for the Nigeria Football Federation for settling the issues of bonuses and also having a code of conduct put in place months before the tournament begins.

"I must say I'm impressed with the NFF for being able to sort out the bonus issue. I remember all the brouhaha that emanated when the usual $10 000 was slashed to $5 000. It was a national embarrassment.

"It goes to show the federation is doing it's best to make sure the team excels. The onus is now on the boys to concentrate on the football, knowing fully what they will get for what they put in. It's a good move, and will motivate the boys.

He went on to reiterate that the recent friendly should not be a yardstick to measures the boys by and feels that full preparation will begin when the team converge in the United States for the final group camping before hitting Brazil.

"We should not use the goalless draw with Mexico as a yardstick to measure the boys. A lot of them have not been really playing for their clubs and this showed in their performances.

"However, June is a bit far and a lot can happen between now and then. I believe when the boys gather together for their training camp, the coaches will be able sort things out.

"The players will also be physically conditioned, so I believe we should cut them some slack, it was just a test game. It shouldn't count for more."

The former national Under-17 assistant coach also lent his voice to the Ikechukwu Uche and Osaze Odemwingie debate and emphasised that Keshi should be allowed to pick his team based on what he wants.

"I usually don't like talking about what players to invite or not, that is up to the coaches to decide," he said.

pic courtesy Getty Images

"However, I would love to see Osaze Odemwingie get an invite to come and improve himself. He has been our most consistent striker over the last month. He is a hard worker and very experienced too. He will definitely help the younger players, not only on the field, but off it.

"He looks to have also changed his ways. He (Osaze) will be an asset in Brazil.

"Uche (Ikechukwu) is a very talented player. It's a bit difficult not to have him in the squad, but maybe Keshi is looking at other options available to him. But at the end of the day, it's Keshi's call and we all have to respect him and support him as much as we can."

pic courtesy mtnfootball

Kpakor also dissected Nigeria's group stage opponents at the World Cup and feels the game with Argentina will be the game that will determine a lot.

He stated that the Albicelestes have a growing rivalry with Nigeria and it will be a very tough and interesting match.
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"It will be our fourth meeting with Argentina in our five appearances at the World Cup. A lot of people are looking towards Bosnia-Herzegovina, but I feel the Argentina match will be key," the former Hawks of Makurdi midfielder said.

"We shouldn't underrate any of the teams. Every game should be a cup final. Iran beat the United States in France 1998, so they won't be pushovers, and Bosnia-Herzegovina, despite being first timers, will be difficult to crack.

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"They have players like Edin Dzeko and Asmir Begovic. We have our work cut out, we need to prepare well," he added.

Nigeria will be making their fifth appearance at the football fiesta and are in Group F alongside Argentina, Iran and Bosnia-Herzegovina.

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