AFCON: 2015. Should Keshi Be Vilified?

Keshi  criticism Unfair

Keshi criticism Unfair

 

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.

Nigeria Sports Awards: A step forward, two backwards…

Nigeria Sports Awards...more improvements please.

Nigeria Sports Awards…more improvements please.

 

The Nigeria Sports Awards  were held last week with the usual glitz and excitement. However a lot is still left to be desired. While we can claim that its still in its infancy, the calibre of people organizing the event make it paramount that this is organized better.

One good thing is that this was not seen as a football award show…here there is marked improvement.  The venue seems also a good spot, with the people friendly and parking adequate, however the criticisms are many.

First, while we understand the difficulty in getting awardees to be present, more should be done in this regard. The glamour of winners showing up can not be quantified.  Organizers should not spare the cost of getting these people present. Its sad to see awards presented in absentia.

Secondly, the lack of script and rehearsals is glariingly enbarrassing. Presenters should be quickly briefed on how they should present and the limitations of their words..same with recipients. Things should work in order and be precise. All nominees should be given a little brief of how and what to say if they win . (Though the obvious lack of education in some of our sportsmen makes this difficult).

There should also be a rehearsal for the technical people…for the second year running, the IT people messed up the whole awards and even when they did try, they were never in sync with the occassion.

I think the presenters need to be worked on too. While Charles did a good job, the awards should always bring in different presenters every year(just like the oscars) and make it a thing of pride for sports journalist and other personalities to be part of the family. It would be nice to see a witty and nice presenter like  Temisan Okomi present this show in future.

I also have some criticisms of the awards ….while it was great to honour the sporting legends and receive them, giving only one trophy and certificate the five of them was poor. Every one should have had a souvenir. Also, recognizing the symbolic issue of Ese Brume winning the commonwealth Games Long jump 40 years after Modupe first won it, was good..but there was no need to present Brume an award for that. (Except of course you were presenting an award for every commonwealth Gold medalist).

While the awards to journalists brought up a lot of excitement, there was a bias to Lagos. We do have great sports journalists outside Lagos. It may be time to recognize them too.

Time was also an issue. Any award that goes on beyond an hour or an hour and a half gets boring. Evidence could be seen at the number of people that left before the end of the show.

Overall, its a step in the right direction as we hope to see this grow into a great annual sports event.

Congrats to all the winners and especially the biggest winners, Vincent Enyeama and Blessing Okagbare, Sportsman and Sports woman of the year.

 

 

 

 

Akwa Ibom Stadium: Beyond the Edifice

The  eye catching Uyo Stadium

The eye catching Uyo Stadium

 

The news has been welcomed across the country with mixed reactions. But no matter what critism anyone would give, this has been a proud moment for the people of Akwa Ibom State. In these days where money is being wasted and dolled out for one political issue or the other, The Akwa Ibom State governor has made a bold statement. ” He is investing in world class infrastructure.”

So why all the noise? Some people ask. Is it not a waste? Some more cynics say. 16B Naira for a stadium, is that our priority? Some more critics would say. Well to all these myopic people i would answer briefly.

The stadium is worth all the noise it gets. Not only are icons the bedrock of any world city (check out the eiffel tower in paris, statue of liberty in New York, Taj Mahal, Opera House in Sydney just to mention a few) they are a good tourist attraction.  It can never be a waste because with tourism comes trade and investment and also development. In these days where governments come and go with a lot of embezzled funds and nothing to show, it is a welcome relief for Nigerians that va visionary governor has done this.

Let us not discount the number  of jobs he would create by the construction of the stadium, food vendors, shop businesses, hosting of big matches etc bring the community commerce. We are not even talking of the core products which is the sporting talents the stadium would help develop. We know with improved sporting talents, we would have more income to the people (a successful pro footballer would always bring money back home), the state is blessed with sporting talents and now they would have where to show case them. Is it not ironic that it was an indigene of the state that scored the only goal in the opening of the stadium for the Super Eagles?

Also, the development of the state has not just been the stadium….it opened as an advert for the new Akwa Ibom State, with a beautiful road network, great bridges and fly overs, an ultra morden E library, a beautiful government lodge, an 18 hole Golf course in the serene Meridien Hotel, and a new airport which is now the third busiest domestic airport after Lagos and Abuja.

There are a lot more…but this stadium is an eye opener for other governors to sit up and make use of the resources given to them  for the people.

Did you say what about the cost? Well I have no evidence of the actual cost but I am hearing 16 Billion Naira, if you put that by the side of what Governor Rotimi Amaechi of Rivers state paid for his  Township stadium in Port harcourt, 30 billion naira….I would say Akpabio has gotten a great deal.

MORE THAN JUST AN OFFICER AND A GENTLEMAN: AFN BOSS STANDS TALL

As I started this blog a year ago, I made it clear that I would write without fear or favour and would at all times maintain that issues here are strictly mine and mine alone. I do have a right to my opinion and the will guard that right jealously. However, I owe it a civic responsibility to make sure that stories  that I publish (whether sourced from me or not) are factual and balanced. It is on this note that I reviewed some stories I had earlier published on the AFN abuse of power and decided there should be a balanced report and facts be put out.

Nesiama: Excelling in Sports and the Military

Nesiama: Excelling in Sports and the Military

After reviewing the story and making some personal investigations, I have decided that this one in particular  needs to be clarified. The AFN technical director, Omotseye Nesiama is indeed a bonafide athlete’s representative.

My investigations and contacts in Monaco actually reveal that Nesiama was qualified and licensed by the IAAF as an Athletes Representative after passing the prescribed exams on first attempt with distinction on 7th Dec 13. He scored 46 out of 48 in the IAAF supervised examination held in London. He thus successfully concluded rather circumventing any of the process. He got an IAAF congratulations for the feat achieved. This actually made him the first Nigerian that has qualified through this newly introduced process in one attempt. We do have other recognized Nigerian athlete’s representatives like Olapade Adenikan in the IAAF records.

 

Nesiama was commended recently by the Sports Minister for this and this was appropriately conveyed to his military constituency accordingly.

 

On getting this information, I put in call to the AFN technical director and he clarified to me that one of the reasons for going into management of Athletes is to better guide our athletes in their professional career and protect them from those Shylock managers lurking around our unsuspecting athletes.

Guardian: Hoping to protect athletes from shylock managers

Guardian: Hoping to protect athletes from shylock managers

This I personally think is a good idea and we should applaud and encourage him for that. I should point out here that the license of an Athletes’ Representative is like any other professional license like that of the pharmacist whose license is required to set up a Pharmacy.

I also put issues of blackmail of athletes to sign with him and the issues of conflict of interest in running the affairs of the federation.

He assured me that there is no conflict as he has not even fully started operations yet but the few they were beginning negotiation with were from Ghana, Botswana, Kenya, and the USA. Some Nigerians would come on board but for now there were no deals yet. He denied using his position to blackmail or force any athlete to signing. He was very clear that nobody or Representative firm can force or threaten any athlete to signing. It would be nice to name or hear from any of the athletes that have been contracted by this group that complains of being short-changed or monies collected against their wishes. The IAAF even has clauses contained in the Athletes Representatives Regulations to deal with such unethical issues that anyone could cite to seek redress. It is when such comes to the fore, then we can engage in our criticisms.

While I would be the first to accept an error in publication and tender my unreserved apology, I insist my reports are done objectively in the interest of the sports and not to disparage our sports administrators for no just cause.

Well personally I don’t think it is out of place for Nigerians to dare into other novel areas that would help to make the management of track and field and indeed athletes in Nigeria better and more competitive.  I do believe that there would not be double standard and this would be a venture where Nigerians would stand tall and be proud once more. My visit to Jamaica a year ago revealed that when everything is home grown, success would be guaranteed. It’s the Jamaican way and so we should try that. The Jamaican have home grown managers, clubs, athletes and coaches. While the naval officer has made big strong positive strides in getting Nigeria to have our own IAAF recognized home grown manager, it comes at a time where the AFN are now employing foreign coaches, advisers and even…athletes.

 

 

Amaju’s NFF Foreign coach Call: Misplaced Priority

Do we need a 'foreign' NFF to get it right?

Do we need a ‘foreign’ NFF to get it right?

 

It has been barely three weeks since Chairman of Delta State Sports Commission took over the helms of affairs of the Nigerian Football Federation and all the chorus that he has sang has been the employment of a foreign coach.

I have a few issues with this.

1. He makes it sound that no matter who it is, as long as he is foreign, he is good enough for us.

2. He questions the qualification and competence of  Nigerian coaches.

3. Does he not also think we need a foreign NFF  President?

4. He is going a route that does not even speak of development of our league, football and the sport.

5. He seems to say that all our gains in the last five years with Siasia and Keshi is wasted.

So sad that he has alluded to the fac t that a coach has already been employed to take care of the Eagles for the next one year….hmm..in one year..what would be the gains? If the Eagles do not make it to the Nations cup in January..that means the coach would be in charge for less than 8 games…at what cost Mr. Amaju Pinnick?

Keshi’s Sack….Wither Nigeria

 

No more tears....Keshi wipes out the pain of coaching the Super Eagles

No more tears….Keshi wipes out the pain of coaching the Super Eagles

The sack of Eagles coach Stephen Keshi has come with mixed reactions. Some believe it was long overdue and some question the timing. Football Analyst Dudu Orumen who has been a big critique of the Delta State born coach was against the timing of the sack….”It leaves room for whats and what ifs…” He believe Keshi should have been left to swim or sink before the decision was made. As it is now ..it is safe for Keshi..if Eagles dont qualify…he would say if he had remained in charge they would have…if the qualify..he would say..the same.

 

NFF..over to you…You say you want foreign coach…If no be Mourihno…we no go gree o.

EBOLA: Olympic Charter Questioned as China Bars Nigeria from Youth Games.

Ebola threatens Nigeria's future champions

Ebola threatens Nigeria’s future champions

 

The Spirit of the Olympics is being tested in faraway Nanjin china as the Chinese Government has openly shown discrimination against Nigeria.

Nigerian athletes who are in China for the Youth Olympics have been quarantined and barred from training over the outbreak of the Ebola virus back home.
The Chinese Government, a statement by the National Sports Commission said, has prevented the athletes from training as other countries’ athletes have been doing since arrival.

This is unacceptable and totally against the Olympic spirit.

In a statement signed Wednesday by the Director General of the National Sports Commission, Hon Gbenga Elegbeleye Nigeria protested to the organisers that the treatment to the Nigerian athletes were inhuman.

The Youth Olympics is scheduled to hold in Nanjing, China from August 16 to August 18. And Team Nigeria were to participate in three sports – Athletics, Wrestling and Beach Vollleyball, with twelve athletes.

The Government has since decided to withdraw the team from the Games.

The vanguard newspaper reports that The decision to withdraw Team Nigeria from the Games was taken after a meeting with Sports Minister, Dr Tammy Danagogo, Nigeria Olympic Committee, NOC, President, Engr Sani M. Ndanusa and the Director General of the National sports Commission, Hon Gbenga Elegbeleye.
Though the officials have not reacted to Nigeria’s withdrawal of her athletes, the discrimination and subsequent quarantine of the athletes is not unconnected to the Ebola virus that is ravaging part of West Africa.
The athletes and their officials have been directed to leave China and head home.

It is so sad because the Chinese have always been welcomed in Nigeria for Business and leisure even in the height of when they had the bird flu epidemic.

Nigerian Athletes were Neglected in America-Ogunode

Femi Ogunode, winning Gold for Qatar at the Asian Games.

Femi Ogunode, winning Gold for Qatar at the Asian Games.

 

Former Nigerian Youth athlete and now Qatari National Champion and Asian record holder in the 200m, Femi Ogunode says Nigerian athletes were treated badly and neglected while in training in the USA towards the preparation for the commonwealth Games earlier this year.

Speaking passionately when he came for the Diamond League in Lausanne, he revealed to me what some athletes had told him when they had met during the Penn relays in America.

‘ They were sad and complained that they had no money.’ He revealed. ‘ I had to personally give them money to eat. It was embarrassing. These were my colleagues, some my seniors when I was in Nigeria. They begged me for money and food. They had lots of complaints. I think they should be treated well. They are afraid to talk. No one listens to them.’

Femi, who spoke happily and gleefully about how he is being treated in Qatar. This news is coming just as reports in Nigeria reveals that the Athletics Federation of Nigeria ran a slave camp in USA.

‘I am like a king. I am given all i need to train. I am looked after well. My family is with me too and they were given jobs.’

The father of one revealed that he left Nigeria after they were dropped from the Junior team despite qualifying for the major competition.

‘We were all sad. The members of the 4 x 400m relay team, we were dropped from the selection and were not even paid. We were told we were not good enough. It was sad. So when the opportunity came, I took it happily. I love Nigeria but needed to take care of myself and my future, that is why I refused to change my name even when I was told by the Qatari authorities. I said I wanted my identity to remain..I will never change my name or renounce my country.’

Having a chat with Femi just before his race at the Diamond League in Lausanne, Switzerland.

Having a chat with Femi just before his race at the Diamond League in Lausanne, Switzerland.

While the Athletics Federation of Nigeria have gone around shopping for non Nigerian athletes past their prime in the USA, Qatar seems to be getting the best of our young talents. Femi Ogunode is joined in Qatar by his younger brother Tosin, and also Samuel Francis. As a matter of fact the trio formed a relay team with ‘a very young Qatari boy who runs 11 seconds in the 100m’, as Femi put it, and they defeated Nigeria’s national 4x 100m relay team in the Penn Relays earlier this year.

It should be recalled that Nigeria’s male 4 x 100m team have failed to even qualify for the last three major championships as they have been unable to run qualifying times. While Femi was Number 10 in the indoor world ranking this year with 6,51 seconds  in the 60m, and his younger brother was world number 8 with 6.50 seconds.

 

 

‘Pep’ up Champions: Guardiorla Grooms Germany

Champios Germany      PHOTO: BBC Sports

Champios Germany PHOTO: BBC Sports

 

Yeah…Germany are the world cup champions but also Spain were four years ago. So whats the news?
Six of the players that won for Spain four years ago came from Barcelona- Coached by Pep Guardiorla.
Six of these players that won for Germany came from Bayern Munich…Yes you got it …Coached by Pep Guardiola. So the recipe to win the World cup is simple…get six of your players from Pep Guardiola’s team.