There are issues I consider very serious, one of which ought to grace this page today; there is the issue of obvious threats to our current democratic practice which if I had handled it today would have been pegged around the bastardization of the internal democracy in our political parties particularly the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) which already has conducted a weird kind of party congress and primaries during which some dubious strong men sat either in their houses, hotels or government houses to write out names of presumed winners, which they submitted and it was accepted.
We were still wondering what kind of democracy is this when the citizen were assailed again with the obnoxious issue of automatic ticket for some categories of public office holders; many of whose only credit could be the fact that they idled away in public office they were elected into while only a few did the real business. You look at these and you ask yourself if we are cursed. This is a serious issue indeed. Then I wanted to begin a scrutiny of the presidential aspirants, assess their qualities, acceptability and predict electability. But I had to break my pledge to leave matters concerning football for a while and return to it because of the failure of the Eagles to qualify for the next African’s Nations Cup scheduled to hold in Equatorial Guinea in January, where they would defended the cup they won in the last edition.
This failure has severe implications for our Nation and development of football around here. If we take some of the results the Eagles posted during this qualifiers some of which were very abysmal and add it to the fact that this is coming closely after this same set of Eagles had what has been generally agreed as a dismal outing in the last World Cup which took place in Brazil this year, every perceptive leader in this nation and keen football follower would have no hesitation in coming to the conclusion that the Eagles under Keshi has cost us loss of respect and dignity. Some may say after all, its sports and we don’t have to win all the time, this is a fine refrain for the weak and non-creative minds who don’t known what excellence means. Yes, you can lose but you don’t have to lose miserably and that is exactly what the Eagles have done, to lose and lose as if we are a nation without talents and capable administrators. I have explained severally on this page that in the competition for supremacy and right standing among nations, sports for those who know, is war by another means.
Great nations know this and that is why they would spend a fortune including assembling the best hands to nurture their sports development into very productive levels where they do well almost all the time. This is why America that found soccer (football) abnormal, boring, and cumbersome for decades is now spending big money to develop the game. It is the same reason that make China begin to train sports men and women from the age of five. When they go to competition and lose in a terrible manner, their political leaders and sports administrators don’t wait for public outrage before they acknowledge that something has been subtracted from national virtue. They admit it and begin to work things around through various reorganizations and sackings if necessary. At the last world cup in Brazil, the Eagles match with Iran was the rated as the worst match of that tournament and when Eagles scrapped through to the second round courtesy of lowly rated Bosnia national team, our Eagles lack of tactical savvy was exposed in our match with France where our team neither had pace, ball control, nor tactical options to new demands in the course of the game. Losing to Congo and Sudan in the way we did and given that Sudan in particular lost to the other teams, home and away tells about our tactical, technical depth and general approach to the execution of our games. Am not happy that Sudan and Congo used us to make history and that alone has caused us some economic losses because it will certainly rub off on the value placed on our players.
I have not been impressed with the Eagles under Keshi and this I have expressed severally on this page not because I don’t like local coaches nor do I have anything personal against Stephen Keshi, rather I have been an advocate for local coaches to handle our teams but they have to be very capable ones and I believe we have so many of them around in this nation who can make the Eagles play in the most modern way. I have not been pleased with the invitations made by Keshi and my review of activities under the Keshi era has left me with the view that Keshi does not have a clear vision of the kind of team he requires and you can get this fact by the frequent invitation of new players, a system that tells me he wants to gamble and place more emphasis on players over tactics and techniques.
If we allow this, in the next 15 years Keshi will still be busy building a team; contrast that with what his South African counterpart have done in just few months. Keshi does not know how to make players improve their games, e.g. Mikel, Moses and Emenike. His team lack pace, hardly can distribute the ball efficiently, can’t take advantage of spot and corner kicks, and there is no discernable pattern to attempts at goal scoring. The strikers are simply blunt, incapable of making deadly forays and no penchant to exploit half chances. You want to understand what am talking about watch Senegal vs. Egypt match home and away.
What is to be done? Let Keshi go, he has given us his best and we are grateful. Let us look inwards and see if we can find three excellent Nigerian coaches that can work together. What about all those coaches that produced all these grade under 17 and under 23 teams? But I think our ambition should be to win the world cup, if that is the case, a world class coach working with our local coaches should be not be out of place. Whatever it is the time to start is now after all other nations that want to do well in future competitions have already finished with the issue of coaching crew and have started playing international grade A friendlies almost twice a month. That is the way to go if we actually mean business. Last word, we must work on our supporting fans, what happened in Uyo was very embarrassing. I rest my case.