Home Editorial The return of Keshi

The return of Keshi

The recent re-engagement of Stephen Okechukwu Keshi as national team coach has finally put to rest the seemingly intractable controversy that had surrounded his contract extension or otherwise, as Super Eagles Chief Coach.
No doubt, Keshi cannot be said to have performed badly during his first appointment, winning the African Cup of Nations title in South Africa, after a 19-year wait, in 2013. With a team made up of at least six home-based players, the team beat the likes of Cote D’Ivoire, Mali and Burkina Faso in the final with a lone strike by a home-based player, Sunday Mba.
It was reported that the Nigeria Football Federation (NFF) had prepared his sack just before the match against Mali because the Super Eagles had started the competition on a shaky note.
The episode also led to his dramatic resignation as coach barely 24 hours after winning the coveted trophy for the nation, thereby, becoming one of the few men to have won the tournament both as a player in 1994 and as a coach in 2013.
It  was also reported that his refusal to use certain players who were doing well in their various clubs owing to reasons of indiscipline and tactics did not go down well with his employers and millions of Nigerians who, because of their love of the game, see themselves as coaches and so must be listened to.
From then on, the relationship between the employer and the employee became like that of the cat and mouse. This eventually culminated in the failure of the nation to make it as defending champions to the 2015 edition of the AFCON held in Equatorial Guinea.
While the face-off between the NFF and Coach Keshi lasted, the nation’s football suffered a steady decline, as the stop-gap measures put in place for the management of the team achieved little or nothing.
For instance, Uganda beat the Super Eagles, at home, in an international friendly.
With the contract finally signed by both parties, all the gladiators should sheathe their swords and put all hands on deck to move the nation’s soccer forward. It is a known fact that football remains one of the major unifying factors that bind the nation together.
We advise that paramount in the minds of the NFF and Keshi and all other stakeholders should be to set up a machinery to ensure that a national team befitting of the nation be built and that as quickly as possible.
We call on the NFF to give Keshi all the necessary support and create a conducive environment to enable him deliver on his assignment. There is no gainsaying the fact  that Keshi has paid his dues having served the nation for several decades both as a player and as a coach, and therefore, deserves the same respect given to foreign coaches who can only boast of their skin pigmentations.
The NFF should realize that in nations where football is taken like a religion, the seat of the coach of the national team is usually too hot for one man alone to handle without the support and understanding of his employers.
Also, as is the tradition, Coach Keshi should be allowed to determine who works with him as aides since he will be responsible for the performance of his team.
In the same token, we call on Keshi to show more understanding and avoid the mistakes of the past by relating well with his environment i.e. his employers, footballers and all other stakeholders.
Coach Keshi should also ensure that all players are given equal opportunity to fight for a shirt irrespective of their ages and be a little more tolerant with his players by accommodating to some extent, their excesses.
Keshi should also be more circumspect in relating with the press especially on contentious issues concerning his employers and players. He should explore all available channels open to him to address whatever grievances he may have rather than airing them in public.
Apart from being a national passion, football has also become a major money spinner in the world and so should not be treated with levity. We advise that all stakeholders of the beautiful game should come to terms with this reality and save the nation avoidable embarrassments.

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