Nigeria coach Stephen Keshi cautious after World Cup draw

By Oluwashina OkelejiBBC Sport
Jerome Valcke holds up the name of Nigeria
Jerome Valcke holds up the name of Nigeria

Nigeria coach Stephen Keshi has reacted diplomatically after Friday's draw for the 2014 World Cup finals.

The Super Eagles face Iran in Group F before taking on Bosnia-Herzegovina and will finish against Argentina in a bid to reach the last 16, as they did in both 1994 and 1998.

It will be the fourth time Nigeria will battle Argentina in the first round of the World Cup, while they will square up with Bosnia and Iran for the first time at this level.

Fans and local media expect the African champions to reach the knockout stage in Brazil, but Keshi knows he has his work cut out.

Nigeria coach Stephen Keshi cautious after draw
Nigeria coach Stephen Keshi cautious after draw

"I am not in the group that feels the draw was an easy one," said Keshi immediately after the draw Friday.

"That would be a mistake to make because all the 32 teams in the pot were worth their places and would be formidable to tackle in the finals.

"There is no way we are going to look at any team and under-rate that team. They qualified just like we did, and no team would be coming determined to simply make up the number. "

The three-time African champions have not won a match at the World Cup since beating Bulgaria in 1998, which is the last time the Super Eagles made it to the knock-out stages.

"We are happy to be here. To be among the 32 best teams in the world is a thing of joy, and our people back home, passionate football fans all, are excited.

"For me, winning always depends on how well you prepare. Even the weather that some people are already saying will favour the African teams against the European teams may not matter much when the competition starts.

"It is preparation that matters. I remember how, in 1994, we thrashed Bulgaria 3-0 in our very first match at the World Cup finals, and they went ahead to reach the semi-finals while we lost out in the Round of 16."

The West Africans will hope to avoid falling at the first hurdle - a fate they suffered in both 2002 and 2010.

Despite losing both their opening group games in South Africa, the Super Eagles still had the chance to reach the last 16 had they beaten South Korea in their final game, but they were held to a 2-2 draw to finish bottom of the pool.

Brazil 2014 will be Nigeria's fifth appearance at a World Cup finals.

Their best outings at the tournament were in 1994 and 1998 when they reached the knockout round of 16.

Four other African nations will compete at the 2014 finals in Brazil.

Cameroon have been drawn in Group A, Ivory Coast in Group C, Ghana in Group G and Algeria are in Group H.