Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Keshi’s TA: The Last Yet To Be Heard?

FLASHBACK TO LAST WEEK: Who Wants Keshi Sacked?

lI HAD rounded off this column when news broke that the Nigeria Football Federation (NFF) were back again in the hunt for a technical adviser to “assist” (a.k.a. “replace!”) Stephen Keshi as coach of the Super Eagles at the World Cup. Soccertalk was the first to expose the plot last year which led the “sports authorities ” to beat a hasty retreat. Let us hope that they would have retreated  again from the ill-advised  idea by the time this column returns next week. See you then, insha Allah.
--Soccertalk, February 12, 2014

TWENTY-FOUR hours after my admonition last week, Nigeria Football Federation (NFF) president, Alhaji Aminu Maigari, appeared on television to assure football fans that his federation had “no plans whatsoever” to employ an expatriate technical assistant for Super Eagles coach Stephen Keshi.

“There is no truth in all the rumours and speculations,” Maigari declared. “The NFF is not planning to force anybody on Keshi. We believe in Keshi, we will support Keshi, we will stand by Keshi all the way to the World Cup in Brazil one hundred and one percent. I am giving you that assurance now as president of the Nigeria Football Federation.”

Before Maigari’s well-published assurances, chairman of the NFF media sub-committee, Chief  Emeka Inyama, had also been quite vocal and categorical. “We have no plan to force an assistant on Keshi,” Inyama declared. “Believe me, everything you’re hearing is mere rumour. If there is any plan like that, I should know as a member of the executive committee and chairman of the media sub-committee. You can quote me: The NFF has no such plans.”

Considering the strong denials by Maigari and Inyama, soccer fans may begin to wonder where the “rumour” about hiring a technical assistant emanated from. They may think it was the sports media that cooked up the speculation. Don’t be deceived. The plan was not a rumour. It was real.

There are people in the ministry of sports and in the influential NFF technical committee who insist that Keshi needs “help.” They actually carried their lobby to the media and sought to get some influential journalists on board.

I was not approached, I guess, because the campaigners already knew where I stood on the matter. But a colleague  who was approached called to ask my opinion and I told him to follow whatever his heart told him. He too later rejected the campaign.

Obviously there were other journalists who accepted to promote the campaign. I have no problem with that because it’s a free world and everyone is entitled to their opinion. But they were a minority and that is why the campaign did not fly. The campaign promoters wanted to test the waters and gauge public reaction before diving into the pool. When they saw the heat of overwhelming public rejection, they decided to abandon the project.

But they may not have given up altogether. The Super Eagles face Mexico in a friendly game early in March and Keshi’s critics are waiting for a slip in order to relaunch their campaign for a foreign technical assistant. I told another  colleague over the weekend that even if Mexico were to beat Nigeria 6-0, that will not change my position that Keshi is the man to lead us to Brazil 2014.

Am I a Keshi apologist? Am I saying he is the perfect coach despite the apparent weaknesses that his team exhibited during the World Cup qualifiers? My answers to both queries are no and no. But I am a student of history.

In each of the last three occasions (France 1998, Korea/Japan 2002 and South Africa 2010) that we had changed coaches just few months before the Mundial, it had not improved our fortunes in the final analysis. Denmark disgraced us in the second round at France ‘98 and we didn’t win any match nor go beyond the first round in 2002 and 2010. Stephen Keshi cannot do any worse at Brazil 2014.

I have pulled my punches in this article because of the categorical manner Maigari and Inyama have come out to dissociate the NFF from the ill-conceived technical assistant idea. Despite available evidence to the contrary, I am willing to accept their submission that there were “no plans whatsoever” to force anybody on Keshi.

But something tells me strongly that we haven’t heard the last on this. I hope I am wrong.
Joseph Yobo’s Return.

PUBLIC opinion is divided on Stephen Keshi’s decision  to recall Joseph Yobo to the national team for the friendly game against Mexico. Some fans insist that the Super Eagles should move on without Yobo, but my view has always been that his fate should be decided by Keshi.

I think Keshi has demonstrated his pragmatism once again by recalling Yobo. Despite the public altercation between the two early last year which led to Yobo being frozen out of the World Cup qualifiers, Keshi had maintained that Yobo “remains my captain.”

Now, he has proved it by giving him a recall.

Without any attempt to rub it in, I believe Yobo has learned a lesson from his episode with Keshi. In his absence, Nigeria qualified for the World Cup, thus driving home the point that no player is bigger than the team.

I truly hope that Yobo will reach the 100-game milestone for Nigeria and become our first Centurion. He is a good chap, he has served us well and he does deserve it. But now, he knows that he has to earn it and he must accept that being team captain will not guarantee him a place in the starting line-up.


Re-My Blue House is the Best

I really enjoyed your write up titled “My blue house is the best”. It was funny! Especially where you said you started seeing double images. But the part that made my day was the “Red Letter Day at Anfield”. Very funny indeed. Sir, I want you to know that we have a lot of Galo (Ganiyu Yusuf) in this country but unfortunately their talent is wasting away. May we live long to enjoy each other. Jazakumulah Khayran (May God reward you abundantly). -– Dayo Olajuyin, Iba, Lagos.

I AM an old student of Iganmode Grammar School, Ota. Thank you for your remniscenes about our inter-house sports during the 1970s. I was in Olota Yellow House at the time and I remember that Galo (Ganiyu Yusuf) whom you mentioned was in Aina Akera Green house.

I remember also that Galo was so fast that he used to run faster than the ball when he played on the right wing! There was also one occasion when he out-jumped the school long jump pit and landed on the grass beyond!
-– Ayo Karunwi, Lagos. (Ex-Iganmode Grammar School, 1975-1980 set).

Re: Who Wants Keshi Sacked?

Good morning dear Mumini. Please let us be very vocal in condemning the diabolical plan by NFF to distract or sabotage coach Stephen Keshi and the Super Eagles with the talk of a foreign technical adviser. It is a great insult and big distraction to the technical crew. NFF should let Keshi appoint his own spies. They should instead account for our stolen $250,000 or resign enmasse. I will instigate a law suit for their sack very soon!. –- Bar Luke Emejulu.

Good day, Alhaji Mumini. Some members of the NFA need cash. That is why they are insisting on technical assistant for Keshi so they can get their share of the money. They say they don’t have money to pay Keshi’s salary. So, where are they going to get the money to pay the  technical adviser? –-Rev Adetunji Oluyede, Magboro.

1 comment:

  1. Elegant as always,dear Mumini,help inform the NFF that it hasn't paid us in the past,definitely not now. Keshi has been able to deliver result even with his weaknesses. Some quarters say he lacks tactical acumen,but we also remember what happened in 2010 when we had the "tactical" Lars Lagerback,results were abysmal. Come rain,come shine let keshi remain as the coach and technical adviser to the mundial.