Nigeria Vs South Africa Friendly: We’re also playing for Madiba – Keshi
Nigeria Coach, Stephen Keshi has described Nelson Mandela as the quintessential icon and the father of all Africans ahead of the Nelson Mandela Challenge.
“ It’s a good feeling when you get a call about participating for Madiba’s game. It’s a great pleasure. Once we got the call, I said yes, I will play and we are glad that they choose us.”
“My image of Madiba when I was growing up was someone that will go out of his way to fight for his people, the sacrifice and the personal challenges notwithstanding. He looked at the future and with age, preferred to end the crisis with peace. He always reminded me of Mahatma Ghandi of India. It was love that brought the people of South Africa to freedom.”
Keshi goes on to express his expectations of the high-powered friendly:
It’s supposed to be a friendly game but national pride and the history and continental status of both countries makes this a humdinger of a clash.”
Bafana Bafana is a good team to play, and I have fond memories of the two games we played with them when they were first re-admitted by Fifa at the start of our USA 94 World cup qualifying campaign, their passion was unbelievable.”
They were very gifted players and played with the same kind of enthusiasm you’ll find in the parks, lots of movement and energy. They were very unpredictable and exciting especially in the return match at FNB. Doctor Khumalo was a delight with his skills but most of them could do the same kind of tricks.”
When reminded some of the Bafana squad from 92 still talk about how much in awe they were of Keshi’s pedigree and his size as well as a story about him coming out of the lift at the Lagos Sheraton and asking the Coach if one of Bafana Players, Bennett Masinga was his son, Keshi couldn’t control his laughter, as he added
“I didn’t know that they will still be talking about that game after 20 years. A couple of them were so small, I only realized they were players when they showed up on match day. One player who I remember and was very impressed with his progress was Lucas Radebe. Perhaps playing Nigeria back then prepared them for what to expect in Africa.”
However, Keshi is under no illusion that Bafana has come a long way and thinks Gordon Igesund is building and believes they did very well at Afcon, so he’s looking forward to the big game. “We’ll see when we get to the field on Wednesday” he said
Keshi took charge of his team as they trained for the first time last night at the King Zelithini Stadium in Umlazi , South of Durban. He had a full squad with the exception of Victor Moses and John Obi Mikel who arrive Tuesday morning.