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Friday, May 30, 2014

Sports

World Cup: We're no gamblers, says Nigeria coach

AFP | Friday, May 30, 2014

A Nigerian fan holds a sign against match fixing outside the ground before the international friendly football match between Nigeria and Scotland at Craven Cottage in London on May 28, 2014.

Nigeria coach Stephen Keshi launched a furious defence of his players, following yesterday morning's (Singapore time) 2-2 draw with Scotland in a match where a match-fixing investigation was launched.

Keshi, who captained the Super Eagles at the 1994 World Cup, said his players were not gamblers 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 Craven Cottage in London.

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

"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," said Keshi.

"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 Nigeria's Azubuike Egwuekwe, who appeared to flick the ball into his own net from James Morrison's cross in the 52nd minute.

But substitute Uche Nwofor grabbed a late equaliser in a game that the Nigerians looked second-best throughout.

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