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To your tents, Super Eagles

Published by Tribune on Mon, 24 Nov 2014

By the time the Super Eagles returned from the 20th FIFA World Cup Finals in Brazil in July where they performed below average, the team should have been disbanded.Fresh legs, younger blood, more motivated players should have been injected into the team, and a brilliant coach (white or black), not a dissembling one like Stephen Keshi, given the task of not only qualifying Nigeria for the 2015 AFCON but to defend the title which Nigeria won in South Africa in 2013.Rather than doing any of these, the Nigeria Football Federation themselves were embattled, disintegrated, suffering from one litigation to another and when sanity briefly appeared on the horizon with the sack of Stephen Keshi, unexpected intervention from the Presidency appeared to restore the status quo. Result'More epileptic performances by the Super Eagles which culminated in our final ouster from AFCON 2015 last Wednesday at the brand new Akwa Ibom International Stadium, Uyo.The only logical step that Nigeria should take is to say ''To your tents, Super Eagles'. It is a shame that Nigeria, once again failed to defend the Cup, as it happened in 1982 when we didn't get past the first round in Libya; 1996 when we failed to show up in South Africa and now 2015 we are not anywhere near Equatorial Guinea the hosts.The question therefore arises: if we know we won't be able to defend the title, why win the Cup in the first place' The next target is AFCON 2017 and hopefully the new set of Super Eagles will be more result-oriented. The obvious weakness of the national team is the absence of team work and team spirit. National teams are built around players from the same clubs who have been playing together for a considerable length of time. But in Nigeria, at least since 2008, I have observed our coaches selecting 23 players from 23 clubs into the Super Eagles. This happened at AFCON 2008 in Ghana, and to a large extent, Keshi carried on with the tradition.The German team, for instance, comprise German footballers playing in top German clubs. They know each other very well and can respond to each other on the field of play. But the Super Eagles had players from England, France, Portugal, Israel, Turkey, Scotland, Belgium, Italy, Spain, Ukraine, Russia, and China. On many occasions some of the invited players met each other for the first time in camp whereas their opponents have been playing together for years. This is the main reason there appears to be no team work among the Super Eagles.In those days of yore, Nigeria relied on home-based players from top clubs Iike Rangers, IICC and a few from other clubs. Today all eyes are on foreign-based who are deified by coaches. For example, midfielder John Obi Mikel who is Keshi's automatic choice has repeatedly been highlighted by COMPLETE SPORTS as more of a liability than an asset, yet Keshi, come rain or shine, stuck to him.Defender, Efe Ambrose is shaky, Ogenyi Onazi relies more on spiritualism and less on football skill. Ahmed Musa is inconsistent, Emmanuel Emenike plays like a yo-yo, Gbolahan Salami exerts too much energy.The overall picture of Keshi's Super Eagles is not pleasing to the eye and now that the results are no better, the earlier the team went, the better. Things have not gone well for Keshi, the Super Eagles and the NFF and if Keshi were to be a gentleman, he should resign honourably, and as for the NFF the jury is still out.
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