Keshi wants Nigeria to step up
By Football News
Nigeria head coach Stephen Keshi has challenged his team to go to 'another level' in their FIFA Confederations Cup clash with Uruguay.
Keshi was left underwhelmed by his team's finishing ability in their tournament opener against Tahiti, which Nigeria won 6-1, the 51-year-old coach feeling his forwards should have converted more goal-scoring opportunities.
Although Nigeria could wrap up a spot in the Confederations Cup semi-finals if they defeat Uruguay in Bahia on Thursday, Keshi has said the long-term success of his side remains the priority.
Keshi wants to put Nigeria on the same level as the best nations in the world and has taken a squad with an average age of 23 to Brazil in the hope of moulding them into a successful team ahead of next year's World Cup.
The Nigeria squad which won the 2013 African Cup of Nations had an average age of 24 but with the likes of Villarreal striker Ikechukwu Uche (29-years-old) and Spartak Moscow forward Emmanuel Emenike (26-years-old) not in Brazil, Keshi has plenty of youngsters to work with.
"We are trying to move from one level, below, to another level," Keshi said on Wednesday.
"Trying to go more into the world of football, that is (required) ... when it comes to the World Cup.
"So it is going good so far and I have been trying to inject more younger players, newer players into the team also.
"Trying to find more balance and just keep it going."
Nigeria captain Vincent Enyeama said his team are focusing on Uruguay as a unit rather than just worrying about forwards Luis Suarez and Edinson Cavani.
While Suarez and Cavani are undoubtedly the stars of Uruguay's national team, Enyeama believes Uruguay head coach Oscar Tabarez has plenty of talent available to him all over the pitch.
Uruguay are likely to have Juventus defender Martin Caceres, Benfica midfielder Maxi Pereira and Southampton attacker Gaston Ramirez in their starting line-up to play Nigeria.
"We are not going to face Cavani and neither are we going to face Suarez," Enyeama said.
"We are going to face Uruguay.
"There are so many great players in there, so many wonderful players there.
"So we are not planning to play against one player, we are planning on facing 13 players or 14 players of Uruguay."