Should Keshi stay?

By Frederick Mordi

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Embattled coach of Nigeria’s national team, the Super Eagles, Stephen Keshi, has been having a running battle with the Nigerian Football Federation (NFF) for some time now over extension of his contract.

Although Keshi has been reportedly offered the job in principle, it does appear from the body language of the NFF that a foreign coach cast in the mould of a Jose Mourinho, would be preferred. While a stalemate persists, Nigeria’s ranking in football has been on a downward slide. The team is ranked 41st in the world and seventh in Africa, as at March 2015. This is certainly a poor record for a country once adjudged the 5th best team in the world, following the impressive performance of the Super Eagles at the 1994 World Cup in USA.

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Interestingly, Keshi, the out of favour coach of the Super Eagles, endeared himself to Nigerian football lovers when he led the team to victory at the 2013 edition of the African Cup of Nations (AFCON), ending a 19-year old wait for the trophy. He also took Nigeria to the Confederations Cup and qualified the country for the 2014 FIFA World Cup in Brazil.

However, Keshi’s boys have been recording poor performance since then. They failed to soar at the Confederations Cup; they could not go beyond the second round at the World Cup; and they could not qualify for the 2015 AFCON. The Super Eagles’ outings at two recent international friendlies have been quite disappointing as well. The team lost 1-0 to a lowly rated Uganda at home in Akwa Ibom state, Nigeria, and drew 1-1 with South Africa. All these have led the clamour for Keshi’s sack. But is there a ready replacement?

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Some football pundits, who say it would be difficult for a Western foreign coach that does not understand African football, to handle the Super Eagles, want Keshi to be given another chance. Others believe he should move on and allow a more experienced foreign coach to take over. For instance, this latter group say former manager of Chelsea, Avram Grant, currently in charge of the Black Stars, the Ghanaian national team, is doing a good job.

But the NFF seems to be in no hurry to take a definite stand on the matter. Until then, the fortunes of Nigeria’s senior national team may continue to dwindle both at the continental and global stage.

However, one thing that is quite certain is the fact that Nigeria does not lack quality footballers—both local and foreign based. Since football is a strong unifying factor among Nigerians, all warring parties must sheathe their swords and work together to ensure that the lost glory of the Super Eagles is restored.

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2 responses to “Should Keshi stay?”

  1. Elvis Eromosele says :

    Your title says ‘Should Keshi stay?’ but you did not tell us if he should stay or go. I say he should GO!

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