Super Eagles coach, Stephen Keshi
By Olawale Ajimotokan
Super Eagles coach Stephen Keshi has defended his decision to announce his list of invited players for the forthcoming Brazil 2014 World Cup qualifier against Kenya, without subjecting it to vetting by the Nigeria Football Federation (NFF) Technical Committee.
Keshi told reporters Wednesday that he bypassed the committee by sending the list to the secretariat of the NFF because the technical committee had not been reconstituted since its dissolution in December of last year by the board of the NFF.
“There was no way I could have appeared before the technical committee as there is no such body in NFF. I can’t appear before a non existing committee. Rather, I sent my list to the secretariat which decided to announce it,” Keshi said.
His response was on the heel of the grievance expressed over the list by two members of the body, Paul Bassey and Austin Elumelu, after Keshi refused to submit it to the committee for vetting.
Elumelu had in particular accused Keshi of flaying the set procedure of inviting players by not giving the committee the profile of some of the players before they were called for national duty.
The two players under scrutiny are John Ogu of Académica de Coimbra of Portugal and Babatunde Michael who plays in Ukraine for FC Kryvbas Kryvyi Rih.
Keshi pleaded that his decision to invite Ogu and Michael should not be questioned because the two players “have quality”.
“I think they (Ogu and Michael) can strengthen our team. They have quality and I have seen them play on a few occasions. Michael is going to be a fantastic player, likewise John. We have a lot of good, young players outside the country who are hungry to play for the national team,” Keshi said.
He said it would be wrong to question the decision to exclude some members of the team that went to the Africa Cup of Nations particularly when there are two players outside that are much better.
Nigeria will regroup in the coastal city of Calabar on March 23, for the first time since their victory at the Africa Cup of Nations, when they host Kenya in a World Cup qualifying Group F match.
Keshi anticipated that the match against Kenya would be a tough one as the pressure would be on Nigeria to raise their game by virtue of their impressive display at the Nations Cup.
Though the Harambee Stars have not been able to stem a history of second fiddle to Nigeria, Keshi warned that the East Africans parade a good side with Victor Wanyama and Donald Mariga as the standout acts.
“They are a good team and never a two-man team. But we have our own strategy on how to beat them and get the result we desire.”