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Thursday, 3 July 2014

A People Undeserving of Heroes

Following the elimination of the Super Eagles from the ongoing FIFA world cup in Brazil, I have been shocked and utterly dismayed at the amount of venom and scorn Nigerian football fans have been pouring on our brave and reliable Head coach, Stephen Okechukwu Keshi and other members of the team.
I was in a taxi, Tuesday afternoon (1st July) when my driver picked up a copy of a sports newspaper he had kept on his dash board, took a look at coach Keshi on the front page and blurted; "...the stupid Keshi has resigned".

I wept in my heart, the same scenario has been playing out in parts of the country and on social media, how so soon Nigerians have forgotten the height this same Keshi took us within two years of taking over the job.

The last time we won the Africa cup of Nations was in 1994 in Tunisia during the fantastic era of Dutchman Clemence Westerhorf whom many have described as the most successful coach in our history.

Big boss Keshi took over the job from Samson Siasia following his inability to take us to the 2012 Nations cup in Gabon and Equitorial Guinea, Keshi came in and not only won the Cup of Nations in South Africa in 2013, but also qualified Nigeria for the world cup in Brazil where we got to the round of 16.
In a space of two years, he eclipsed the achievements of Clemence Westerhof, who achieved the same feat in 6 years by winning the Afcon in 1994 and also taking the Eagles to the world cup in USA the same year.

Why then have we decided to punish this young man who has dedicated his playing and coaching career to the advancement of Nigerian football, mind you he is only the second African to have won the Nations cup as a player (1994) and as a coach (2013).

Why do we disrespect our heroes? the most annoying part is that even the Football Association that employed him, treat him with disdain.
It was an open secret that Keshi was at one point owed about 7 months wages, how many Nigerians challenged the Football Authorities on the matter then? Just a few, the rest didn't bother, but just for losing in the round of 16 at a world cup that many pundits have described as the most competitive in its history, Nigerians want to skin the man alive.

Nigeria's captain Joseph Yobo has won himself a nickname: "Calamity Yobo".

For those that gave him the name, it does not matter how well he has served his country since 2001 when he won his first cap for the National team which later culminated in a hundred in this year's world cup, a poor performance at the Nations cup in 2013 and an own goal against France in the round of 16 is enough to nail him to the cross.

This is so unfair, our most reliable player, Vincent Enyeama, the safest hands in Africa and I dare say one of the best in the world is now contemplating retirement from International football just like Yobo has done, you won't blame him because he knows that any slight mistake on his part in subsequent tournaments and the table will turn on him, he will become another object of silly jokes, unnecessary and unwarranted criticisms on social media just like I have seen of Keshi and Yobo.

For John Obi Mikel, I agree that his performance at the world cup was disappointing, but that does not take anything away from the fact that he's had better days, these guys need our support in good and bad times, that's the stuff real fans are made of, this will surely make them perform better subsequently.

Reports of Keshi's resignation from the job is not surprising, just like the Holy Bible says, a prophet is not recognised in his home country, I'm terribly bitter at the turn of events, if Keshi leaves, he will definitely take over the job of managing the Bafana Bafana of South Africa and our usual search for a new coach will begin which I'm sure will eventually lead to the employment of a "technical adviser" (as we always call them when they are foreign) who will take over the job with the hope of making some dollars and leaving us high and dry without any significant achievement.

My final appeal goes to President Goodluck Jonathan to intervene in this matter, Mr. President please we can't afford to lose Keshi now, continuity is the watch word, he needs to finish the good work he started, before I rest my case, remember: Godfrey Oboabuna, Reuben Gabriel, Ejike Uzoenyi, Keneth Omeruo, Azubuike Egwueke and others, you know what they all have in common? They are the next generation project Big Boss Stephen Keshi started, let's allow him to complete this worthwhile endeavour.

Big Boss, I'm on my knees, forgive the transgressors for they know not what they do and they know not what they have until they lose it, accept my apology on behalf of Nigerians, we, maybe I for now need you to stay.

Chinedu Echianu 

follow me on twitter @nedujizzy

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