Keshi ordered to prune squad

Nigeria coach Stephen Keshi has been ordered to prune his squad for next month’s Fifa World Cup qualifier down to a more manageable 23 players.

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On Tuesday, Keshi announced a 42-player squad, consisting of 18 Europe-based players and 24 from the domestic league.

According to the coach, the large number of domestic league players was with a view to identifying fresh players ahead of next year’s African Nations Championship, with just five of that number to be involved against Malawi.

But the NFF say that is unnecessary and directed Keshi to focus on the task at hand which is earning Nigeria a 2014 Fifa World Cup finals ticket, before the business of full preparation for the 2014 African Nations Championship can start in earnest.

‘We must be very pragmatic and take it one step at a time,” NFF Executive Committee member Chris Green said.

“The 2014 Fifa World Cup ticket is very, very important to Nigeria and Nigerians. Yes, we have qualified for the African Nations Championship, for the first time ever, and we very much appreciate it.

‘But there are three very crucial 2014 Fifa World Cup qualifying matches that we must prosecute successfully to qualify for Brazil before we can start the build-up to the African Nations Championship.

‘Our smart money must be on focusing hard, and without any distraction, at the World Cup ticket,” he added.

Keshi is expected to harmonise his list and submit a reviewed document to the NFF before the end of the week.

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