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Nigerian players put demands on hold

17 June 2013, 06:25

Nigeria - Nigerian players finally travelled to Brazil and were ready to tackle their first Confederations Cup match on Monday against Tahiti, but the disagreement over pay that delayed their arrival was only put on hold.

"It's not like we've settled anything, but we've moved on," keeper Vincent Enyeama said late on Sunday in Belo Horizonte. "After the championship we will revisit that issue."

Enyeama stressed that the African champions are "professionals" and are happy to be taking part in the Confederations Cup.

Nigerian players had threatened to boycott the tournament altogether. Following their 1-1 draw with Namibia in Windhoek late Wednesday, they rejected a 2 500-dollar match bonus from their cash-strapped federation, which media reports said was half of what they had been expecting. There was a similar occurrence after their 1-0 win against Kenya in Nairobi last week.

Nigerian players refused to fly to Brazil on Thursday as originally planned and stayed in Namibia. They eventually flew from Windhoek to Johannesburg and on to Sao Paulo on Saturday. They reached Belo Horizonte at around 3 am on Sunday, some 36 hours before their match against Tahiti.

Coach Stephen Keshi cautiously sided with his players.

"Their decision depends on the circumstances that they're under. We're here, that's the most important thing," Keshi said.

"Whatever has happened before is behind us," he said.

Referring to Tahiti, a team in which all members of the squad except captain Marama Vahirua are amateurs, Keshi admitted he did not know much about them. However, he expressed full respect for the team from the small island nation.

"Every team that is here they played their way to get here," Keshi said of the Oceanian Cup champions.

"We're going to go play against Tahiti like we're going to play against Uruguay, or Spain, or Japan or whoever we're playing against," he said.

The coach played down expectations that his men would thrash Tahiti.

"In football it's very difficult to score many goals," he said. "It's best to start with one, then two."

"If it happens that we have the chance to score many goals, we will take it," Keshi stressed.

He admitted that his men were "a little fatigued" after their trip, but he stressed that they are "not here to party."

Nigeria are in Group A of the Confed Cup, with world champions Spain and South American champions Uruguay as well as the lowly Tahiti.

- Sapa-DPA


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