Thursday, 14 August 2014

Keshi’s contract renewal BY AMOS ETUK

Our football administrators are the foundation of the rot in our slow progress in the beautiful game in the country and despite the strong showings of commitment to the development of the game, certain recent decisions have left a lot of football followers bewildered. 

After the just concluded World Cup; it was expected that Super Eagles coach to the mundial, Stephen Keshi would be relieved of his post as the national team’s gaffer. Her failed to meet the deadline of a semi final target given to him by his employers and clearly lost control of his dressing room and evidently showed tactical ineptness both on and off the pitch of play. 

I am surprised that this same NFF that has been at logger heads with Keshi for about two years could ever sit down to open talks with the big boss on a contract renewal after that shoddy world cup performance. That Keshi had boasted even before the World Cup started that he had offers from six countries and was widely quoted in the Nigerian media as not having interest in renewing his contract and speculations were rife that the South African Football Association (SAFA) were only waiting for the World Cup to finish before Keshi is announced as their next coach for the Bafana Bafana. 

We are aware that the South Africans have appointed a new coach and shunned Keshi whose dressing room war and attitudinal challenges continues to tear the national team and his employers. There are even speculations though unfounded that Keshi grouse with the NFF may have triggered the move to at first sack the ousted NFF President, Aminu Maigari which later transformed to his impeachment. Keshi’s connection in the high places in government has given him so much leverage just to do anything as we re-call that he was virtually prevailed upon and begged not to resign after his victorious outing at South Africa 2013.   

For whatever reason, Keshi’s contract renewal seems to be on the front burner as this same NFF is negotiating to bring him back to tinker Nigerian football for another God knows how many years. How we have arrived at this unfortunate situation remains a sorry tale of Nigerian football but I strongly believe that there were better options for the National team coach vacancy apart from Keshi. 

For a man who could not forgive his best player with regards to Ikechukwu Uche for simply airing his objective views on the quality of training which the national team gets under Keshi is unfortunate. For Keshi to be considered despite his obvious tactical negative status in virtually all the matches he has tinkered the team is indeed alarming where the likes of Mikel Obi, Victor Moses, Ramon Azeez , Chigozie Agbim and others featured against better players dropped like Brown Ideye, Kelechi Iheanacho, Sunday Mba, Victor Anichebe and even Obafemi Martins is very depressing on the growth of Nigerian football. That a coach who virtually fought all his best players and each moment schemed to enforce loyalty to him rather than mould a great team is unthinkable to renew his contract. 

I thought the NFF had seen through Keshi’s blunders at the Confederations Cup, CHAN tournament, Nations Cup 2013 and the World Cup in Brazil which laid everything bare. 

This is Keshi now asking for N10million monthly, so laughable for a man who has failed to read matches, a man who refused a simple offer by his employers to have a tactical assistant because of his fears of being swept into the background, a man who has been lucky by the individual content of some of his players rather than team work or technical depth. 

At the World Cup, we all saw how Keshi was clueless against Iran in the opening group game as we were held to a goalless encounter. Prior to the game against France in the round of sixteen, what role did Keshi play in averting the players revolt against the NFF as a good technical adviser knowing that history beckoned on his team to beat France and hit the quarter finals which would have made him outstanding. 

Even during the encounter, it was obvious that Onazi Ogenyi was our best player at the tournament and the French got him knocked out. We would like to ask NFF and Keshi why Ramon Azeez who was already dressed up was asked to step down for Gabriel Reuben under that tactical incompetence, was that decision taken where a certain Mikel Obi was just as slow as the Lagos traffic on the pitch of play.
Why then do we need Keshi when there are better ex-internationals with better certificates to tinker the national team? I had expected the NFF to chart a way forward for the national team with a better coach. We have ex-internationals with great technical depth.

With due respects, Samson Siasia has the technical prowess just the same attitude challenge he posses and Sunday Oliseh is also a good material to lead the national team. 

I believe the national team should be given a fresher breath of life as Keshi has nothing to offer but to continue his vendetta on players and fight his employers daily. 

It took the pleas of millions of Nigerians for Keshi to carry Osaze Odewingie and Joseph Yobo on the trip to Brazil and they performed creditably.  
For the records, Nigeria went to the World Cup without her best legs that could have made that difference at the mundial despite the huge expectations from them as African champions. 

Last week, we read in the media that the ongoing talks with Keshi who is far away in United States of America has been offered  salary increment by the NFF for him to continue grooming the national team with the 2015 Africa Cup of Nations defence in Morocco his first major campaign. 

 I also feel the NFF technical committee may also be setting up Keshi for a right of first refusal with this new offer but what matters most is that Keshi should not be the man for the new job to tinker the national team.   

Keshi should try his luck elsewhere. We appreciate his laudable contributions to the national team and the success as he has achieved but we believe that the NFF’s radar for a new coach should be focused on better leadership qualities of a good manager, technical competence and effective managerial duties off and on the pitch. 

We may have endorsed Keshi for the period he tinkered the national team, but the NFF should realize that even his assistants like Daniel Amokachi can lead the team while we search for a new coach in subsequent matches. 

I am yet to be proven wrong on Keshi’s technical input to our national team games but I sincerely hope, the latest move will not be another regrettable mistake on this ego branding coach who will once again grow bigger than the NFF and resume a season two of bickering with our national team players. This is just nightmare.

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