The Super Eagles on Tuesday resumed training for the first-leg final round of qualifier for the 2014 World Cup between Nigeria and Ethiopia with only star striker, Emmanuel Emenike the major absentee.
Eighteen players including midfielder, John Obi Mikel; defender, Godfrey Oboabona and striker, Shola Ameobi began preparation for the match with Ethiopia’s Walya Antelopes billed for Addis Ababa on Oct. 13.
The camp had opened on Sunday, Oct. 6 in Abuja and even though some of the invited players are still being expected, players had their first full training on the refurbished Abuja National Stadium’s pitch include,
Other players already in camp for the Word Cup decider are Goalkeepers Vincent Enyeama, Austin Ejide and Chigozie Agbim, and three strikers, Ahmed Musa, Obinna Nsofor and Uche Nwofor.
Others include defenders Elderson Echiejile, Francis Benjamin, Efe Ambrose, Solomon Kwambe, Azubuike Egwuekwe and James Okwuosa, John Ogu, Ogenyi Onazi, Sunday Mba and Nnamdi Oduamadi.
Brown Ideye, Emmanuel Emenike, Victor Moses and Nosa Igiebor were yet to resume for training.
The Super Eagle’s Head Coach, Stephen Keshi, told newsmen after the evening training that the missing players would arrive latest by Wednesday morning.
Keshi, who took his players through the training, however, decried the state of the refurbished pitch of the National Stadium in Abuja was not good for football, expressing displeasure with the state of the pitch, saying that it would be dangerous for the Eagles to play on it.
“From what I saw, it is a sandy pitch and it is hard; it will be very difficult for the players to play on it, especially the goalkeepers because it is sharp sand,” he noted.
“If it rains, I think, the pitch will be water-logged,’’ Keshi said.
He, however, dismissed the fears of some Nigerians over the weather in Ethiopia, saying: “Most of the players played in Ethiopia in 2011, so, they know the terrain. The challenge is not the weather, but the altitude; the weather could be rainy or sunny, it does not matter.
“Our minds is to go out there and get the result for Nigeria and make ourselves proud. We have big responsibility as Nigeria’s representatives in Ethiopia and we will try to make Nigerians proud.
“With the major actors on the field, we need to be able to showcase what we can do and then take Nigeria flag with us.’’
He said he was not under pressure to win in Ethiopia, as football was all about win, lose or draw.
The ‘Big Boss’, as Keshi was popularly called in his playing days, said the travel arrangement made by the Nigeria Football Association (NFA) could contribute to the team’s success.
He thanked the NFA for the 24-hour to the match arrival plan of the team in Ethiopia, saying that it would help the technical crew to execute its game plan.