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2014 World Cup catch-up


NIGERIA head coach, Stephen Keshi, has disclosed that his team will adopt the one-match-at-a-time formula as they prepare to face Iran in a World Cup clash today.

Keshi made it clear that the African champions are only focused on Team Melli at the moment and will not bother about Argentina or Bosnia-Herzegovina until they achieve a result in their first match of the Mundial. He also expressed belief in the Nigerian squad adding that they were not in Brazil to make up the numbers.

“Today as I speak, I know we are going to play Iran. There are two other matches in the group phase, against Bosnia-Herzegovina and Argentina, but our focus for now is what we must achieve against Iran in Curitiba. There would have been no reason to take part in the qualifying series if we didn’t believe we would make it to the finals, and there would have been no reason to prepare so hard for the finals if we knew we were only coming to Brazil to make up the numbers,” he said.

Keshi quickly recalled the France 1998 World Cup when the Super Eagles had already dismissed their second round opponents, Denmark and were looking forward to face Brazil at that time in the last eight. Nigeria ended up being thrashed 1-4 by the Danish team. He recounted the 1994 episode against the Italians.

“Both situations were unfortunate. That is why you must always focus on your immediate challenge. We definitely lost to inexperience in 1994. Here in Brazil, we have a mixture of youth and experience. We are ready to fly,” he said.

Meanwhile, Chelsea striker Fernando Torres believes Spain are an even better team than when they won the World Cup four years ago despite opening the defence of their title with a humiliating 1-5 thumping by the Netherlands.

“We are the same as we were a week ago, or four years ago. The team has matured with age. There is nothing to say that the team is worse, I would say it is a lot better,” the 30-year-old said.

Torres insisted their experience of winning three consecutive major tournaments before landing in Brazil will mean the squad’s confidence is not shot when they face Chile on Wednesday.

“Psychologically we are prepared. We need to look at Chile and analyse them,” he said. “Mentally I think the team is prepared for a situation like this. This group has gone through very good and very bad moments together. We know what we are capable of and I don,t think the psychological factor will be a problem.”

Wayne Rooney may have been staunchly defended by England coach Roy Hodgson after the opening 1-2 defeat by Italy in the World Cup, but his performance attracted criticism from former top players and coaches.

Some like former England coach Graham Taylor made allowances for him being played out of position wide on the left by Hodgson while others were less charitable with former England midfielder Alan Mullery calling for the 28-year-old to be dropped.

Mullery echoed comments made by Rooney’s former Manchester United teammate Paul Scholes, who before the World Cup had queried whether he had already peaked and faced a struggle to get into the first team.

The main criticism of Rooney’s performance revolved not around his play going forward, as he created England’s best chances and had three shots at goal.

— SuperSport

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