We’re footballers, not gamblers - Keshi

Friday 30 May 2014

/ by Colin Udoh

Nigeria coach Stephen Keshi launched a furious defence of his players following Wednesday’s 2-2 draw with Scotland in a match whose build-up had been disrupted over a match-fixing investigation being launched.

Keshi, who captained Nigeria at the 1994 World Cup finals, said his World Cup finals-bound players were not gamblers they were footballers and ridiculed allegations that anything sinister had taken place.

The game was threatened after Britain’s serious crime squad the National Crime Agency were called to investigate a possible threat of match-fixing linked to illegal betting rings ahead of the game at Fulham’s ground in London.

But Keshi, who coached Nigeria to the Africa Cup of Nations title last year, said his team were not affected by the off-field issues before the kickoff.

“We did (talk about it) because it’s something ridiculous, something that we don’t know where it’s coming from. We’re not gamblers, we are football players,” Keshi was quoted as saying by AFP.

“I don’t even know where that is coming from, we don’t know what happened, match fixing or no match fixing.
“This is the first time I’ve been a coach or been a player and the first time I’m hearing this, match-fixing. I don’t think it had anything to do with our build-up or the game.”

On the pitch, Charlie Mulgrew opened the scoring for the Tartan Army after 10 minutes before Michael Uchebo equalised with four minutes left of the first half.

The Scots regained the lead through a bizarre own goal by defender Azubuike Egwuekwe who appeared to flick the ball into his own net from James Morrison’s cross in the 52nd minute.

But super-sub Uche Nwofor converted an equaliser in stoppage time in a game that the Nigerians looked second best in throughout.
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