Super Eagles coach, Stephen Keshi
While the attention of football fans is shifting to next month’s Nations Cup finals in South Africa an unsavoury and unnecessary distraction cropped up recently which once again raises issues concerning manager (or coach)/ player relationship in the country.
Last Friday Super Eagles coach, Stephen Keshi released a 32 preliminary list of players he wants with him in Faro, Portugal as he enters the crucial lap of his build up to South Africa 2013.
I’m sure to the surprise of many the former national team captain opted to leave out a number of former team stalwarts including Yakubu Aiyegbeni, Obafemi Martins, Taye Taiwo and Osaze Odemwingie.
While the exclusion of the first three might not have raised too many eyebrows, the decision to drop Odemwingie…hmm!
Of course not one to keep his thoughts to himself, the West Brom striker turned to the social network site, Twitter (incidentally the same medium that put him in trouble with former manager, Samson Siasia) to respond to the Nations Cup snub.
“On my non-inclusion to the Eagles list I am not surprised. Not surprised Keshi and NFF couldn’t tell me themselves. No personality!
“Keshi has no footballing reasons not to invite me but is not saying the truth. He is still in my plans he said ha-ha coach u no dey my plans,” Odemwingie wrote on his Twitter page.
Now rather than rising above the fray and showing his maturity Keshi decided to (in my opinion) stoop low and joined issues with his player by reportedly telling the Technical Committee of the Nigeria Football Federation (NFF) that Osaze had wanted to captain the Eagles.
“But how he has behaved in the national team over the years has really run counter to his ambition to be the leader of this team. You can only lead by example,” the ‘Big Boss’ told the committee ostensibly in justifying his action.
But do two wrongs make a right? Of course not, in taking to his Twitter page, Osaze has only done more damage to his course.
Perhaps had he kept mute he would have garnered more sympathy which may have crystallised into forcing Keshi to have a re-think.
Now having not only ‘blasting’ Keshi but even slamming the NFF too, it will be very hard for them to forgive him and offer him another chance.
On the other hand while as national team coach, it is Keshi’s prerogative to choose which ever player he believes will help him get the desired result, he should have still called those left out to explain to them personally why they would have to watch the continent’s greatest football showpiece like we fans and not as active participants chasing fame and glory.
Of course the call would not have made it any easier for them missing out but at least it would have assuaged their hurt and shown them that he still feels for them even though his action hurt them.
It is a bit amazing he did not do this considering that he played abroad for a long time and would have been in such situations himself.
Most of us are followers of the English Premier League and other European games and we hardly ever hear players moaning loud about being left on the bench or excluded from tournaments.
Even when they are shabbily treated (like Dimitar Berbatov was by Alex Ferguson at Manchester United) I’m yet to read anywhere where the Bulgarian has taken a pop shot at the Scotsman for edging him out of the Theatre of Dreams.
Only recently Real Madrid manager, Jose Mourinho stunned many by deciding to leave Madrid great and Spain’s captain, Ike Casillas out of the La Liga clash with Espanyol citing ‘technical reasons’ even though many thought that it was the Portuguese manager’s attempt at clipping the goalkeeper’s influence.
However, rather than turning to Twitter to vent his anger this is what Casillas told broadcaster, La Sexta: "The coach decides who plays.”
"During the week I could tell I wasn't going to play but it wasn't a setback," he added.
"Mourinho didn't say anything to me; he did not explain anything to me. He doesn't give me explanations when I play, so when I don't play he doesn't do so either.
"You have to respect the coach's decision and I have to train a lot more to try to win back confidence."
I hope our roforofor fighters have read this!
This is the reaction of a matured mind. Even if Casillas is seething inside for this obvious attempt at showing who is in charge of the team, he kept it to himself and it is the fans that have taken up his case calling on the board to get Mourinho out!
Ironically, the Portuguese manager would not have faced such a huge backlash had Madrid won the match it would have been described as a ‘brilliant tactical move’ by the former Chelsea manager.
By the way I hope Keshi knows what he will face should the Eagles fail to fly in South Africa?
I feel that there is no harm in players, officials and manager taking a cue from Europe, especially since that is were they have either plied their trade or are currently playing there – after all it will save us all the dirty linen being washed in the full glare of the media and allow everyone concentrate on the task at hand, which is doing well in South Africa.