Coach Stephen Keshi proud of Nigeria's CHAN campaign

By Oluwashina OkelejiBBC Sport, Lagos
Nigeria coach Stephen Keshi
Stephen Keshi

Nigeria coach Stephen Keshi was proud of his team's African Nations Championship campaign despite their defeat by Ghana in the semi-final.

The Super Eagles beat Zimbabwe 1-0 in the third-placed play-off, thanks to Christian Chinonso Obiozor's late goal.

But Keshi refused to blame his players for their inability to beat 10-man Ghana in the last four.

Nigeria put on a woeful performance, eventually losing the semi-final on penalties to their arch-rivals.

"I've been with an exceptional group of players who gave their all in what has been a great CHAN debut," Keshi told BBC Sport.

"Considering the odds against them, the pressure and expectations, I'm extremely proud of their attitude and professional discipline."

Debutants Nigeria were deprived of regulars like Sunday Mba and Godfrey Oboabona (who completed European transfers before the CHAN) but Keshi insists the tournament fulfilled his objectives for the locally-based players.

"The objective was to see one or two players that could make the World Cup and I've seen some of them already," he said.

"It will be to my delight if four players from this team we have taken to CHAN can make it to the World Cup in Brazil."

Attacking winger Ejike Uzoenyi emerged as the tournament's Most Valuable Player (MVP) while Odunlami Kunle and Rabiu Ali were named in the Confederation of African Football's (Caf) best XI for the competition.

Keshi added: "When we look at our track record we can be proud and commend those selected by Caf without ruling out the fact that it happened because we have a good team.

"I think deep down that we've had a good CHAN. I'd rather take the positives away with me from South Africa."