It is all over. The Super Eagles of Nigeria, defending champions at Africa’s Premier show piece would not be defending her crown. It is deja vu as the last time we won it, we did not defend it in South Africa no thanks to the maximum ruler then, Sani Abacha. Again, South Africa is involved (though now in a sporting manner) and another ‘maximum ruler’..this time in the person of Stephen Keshi.
But is it really Keshi? Can he take all the blame for the insipid and lazy play by some of our established players? Can he take the blame for a Federation that sacked the team psychologist, which now made us play a player that has a 250,000 euro rape case over his head? Was the player mentally strong enough to play? Can he take the blame for a side that was so unsure of who was in charge of the team? Can he take the blame for a football federation whose leaders were playing musical chairs and holding different appointments with the law courts? Can he take the blame for a person that was coaching without a contract?
Really, I would like to ask those who villify Keshi to brush their memory a little. Nigeria has won the African Cup of Nations three times…only once with a local coach. Who was it?
Nigeria went three years without a defeat to an African side under whose watch?
Nigeria reached the second round of the world cup for the fist time in 16 years under whose watch?
Who is the only Nigerian coach to take us past the group stages of the world cup?
While many older fans would remember the great team of 1994 and may be tempted to compare, we should note that the team had the core of players in clubsides like Anderletch, Club Brugges, Ajax Amsterdam and all over from Holland, Portugal, Belgium, Italy while our 2014 side had players in…er ….Mikel and Moses aside, not very established footballing nations.
Still, we blame Keshi. We blame him for the lack of trust the players had on our NFF that made them strike in Brazil. We blame him for Enyeamas mistake that made France score the crucial goal against Nigeria. We blame him for Messi’s double that sealed our loss to Argentina. We blame him for Emenike unable to score against Iran. We blame him for even the rain, for the late flights, for our flu, for Boko Haram, for everything. It is easy to blame Keshi.
While many say a coach is as good as his last result, we should also understand that one game does not make a bad coach. …and yes I may know that well..I am an Arsenal fan.