Sunday, 16 September 2012

Opinion: Lest We Miss Out Of Africa Cup Of Nations 2013

By Nelson Ekujumi

Following the recent “Super” Eagles 2-2 draw in Monrovia against Lone stars of Liberia in the last qualification stage for next year’s edition of the African Nations Cup to be hosted by South Africa in 2013, a lot of misgivings are being expressed daily about this team and its handlers that have become a big embarrassment and shame to the pride and sensibilities of Nigerians.

I have for some time now decided to go on sabbatical with regards to comments regarding this team which our people including journalists proudly, patriotically and hopefully refer to as Super Eagles but which realistically speaking do not deserve any commendable appellation because of its continuous embarrassment to our national psyche by its uninspiring and negative football display. But I have been forced to come out of my shell by concern for the sensibilities of fellow Nigerians and this impending calamity of missing out of the Nations Cup again next year like we did from the last edition co-hosted by Gabon and Equatorial Guinea early this year.

There is a saying which goes thus, “As you lay your bed, so will you lie on it”. Is anybody still surprised as to how we got to this pitiable state? Well, the answer is in the way we have allowed our football administration to be managed by persons who shouldn’t be any where near it. Our football have so degenerated to the level that even countries who took leave for almost a decade from football due to internal strife are confident that they can defeat us Nigeria, who play day in, day out 24/7 all over the world and even in our bedrooms. Oh what a shame, how are the mighty derided!

I remember vividly very well that it took all the agitations in the world before the former national team handler was kicked out even when it was glaring to every discerning mind that he was piloting the ship of the senior national for disaster, which he eventually did with our non qualification for the last Nations cup of which we had become customary participant for a long time. Even though some of us like Prophets of old had predicted that he was unqualified by all ramifications to lead the senior national team of a great footballing country like Nigeria in view of the fact that he lacked the temperament and had no previous record of football management at the senior level, yet we were called names but his result at the end of the day justified that we didn’t cry wolf for the fun of it.

When the present senior national team handler was appointed, a lot of Nigerians queried the method of his appointment in view of the fact that unlike in civilized climes where the preferred is chosen from a shortlist of applicants, Our own chief coach was appointed just like that, in a manner that has become synonymous with the disorganized and nepotism oriented way with which we do things here in Nigeria and which have continuously turned us into an embarrassment in the comity of serious minded people globally. He was appointed based on considerations other than merit, hence the distasteful football display by the senior national team under his guidance ever since.

Since he took charge of the senior national team, Coach Stephen Okechukwu Keshi in deference to his tactical ability and the team has continuously churned out shameless and uninspiring display not symbolic of the spirit of the Nigerian people and reminiscent of the Fanny Amu wobbling and fumbling era to the consternation of all. In all the matches played so far by the team, they have struggled and failed to raise their game beyond their usual mediocre level in view of the fact that this team is populated by players with brawns and no brains, tired legs and perpetual bench warmers. A lot of the players in the team are regulars for their clubs only in the media. Today, they are heaping all the blame for the draw in Monrovia on Vincent Enyeama, as if they expected anything more from a player who for the past two years has remained the number one goal tender for the senior national team even though he sits on the bench regularly for his unknown club in Europe at the expense of other fit goal keepers who stand between the sticks week in and out for their clubs both here in Nigerian and outside our shores. This glaring tactical error in selection of players calls to question the technical ability of the Big Boss to choose the right players for our senior national team.

Coach Keshi’s case is not helped by the fact that despite displaying glaring technical incompetence in reading of matches that he has played so far which has been characterized with mountain of excuses for their repeated mediocre display, some jobbers still continue to make case for us to be patient with him as though the we are not Africans who are guided by the need to avoid an impending danger with one of our proverbs which says “Igi gogoro ma gun ni loju, ati oke re la tin woo”. With the way we are going under Keshi, if we are lucky to scale this Liberia hurdle, we will only be going to the Nations cup in South Africa to make up the number which will not be in tandem with the wishes and aspirations of the Nigerian sporting community.

As we prepare for the second leg return match against Lone Stars of Liberia in Calabar, there is need for us all to admonish the Big Boss to parade only players who are psychologically tuned, regulars in their clubs and have the thirst to don the national team jersey rather than his so called “Super” Eagles who cannot defeat even a team made up of my grand mother and her fellow grand mothers so long as the match is played on my village football field. There is also the need to appoint immediately now a quality national technical adviser to oversee and technically develop Keshi and other national team coaches if we are truly desirous of reclaiming our cherished position in the global world of football. As for the board of the NFF, the people have spoken and lampooned them repeatedly as a body of unserious minds who are more interested in feathering only their pockets and that of their pay masters because they have no iota of shame to realize that it is more honourable to resign and leave our football management alone rather than piloting it to shame and calamity just like our political elites are doing with our lives.

(Ekujumi is Executive Chairman,
Committee for the Protection of Peoples Mandate (CPPM)
26A Adesina Street, Ikeja, Lagos. He can be reached on: 08023172694, 07033853232)

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