Super Eagles Head Coach, Stephen Keshi
By Duro Ikhazuagbe
Super Eagles Head Coach, Stephen Keshi was livid with rage on Saturday night at the Samuel Kanyon Doe Stadium in Monrovia shortly after the host country, Liberia held the Nigeria senior national team to a 2-2 draw result in the first leg of the 2013 Africa Cup of Nations qualifier.
The ex-international, who was looking forward to avoiding the same pitfalls that cost his friend and former Super Eagles team mate, Samson Siasia, the most coveted position in the country’s football, was far from being satisfied with the performance of Vincent Enyeama in the away draw.
A top insider in the Eagles’ coaching staff confided in THISDAY that in as much as there were several unpardonable mistakes from the Nigerian players, Keshi singled out Enyeama for blame because he conceded cheap goals.
“Keshi was very angry with Enyeama for conceding two cheap goals. The coach insisted that not even home based, Warri Wolves goal keeper, Chigozie Agbim could have committed such blunders,” revealed the official, who did not want his name in print because of his position in the team.
He cited the yeoman performance put up by Agbim against Niger in the international friendly the Eagles played with the Menas in Niamey recently.
“We all agreed with Keshi that the second goal scored by Sekou Oliseh to tie the game 2-2 should not have beaten Enyeama in his hey days.”
But Captain of the team, Joseph Yobo appears to look at the matter differently.
In a chat with THISDAY while waiting to board the chartered IRS Airline flight back to Abuja at the Roberts field Airport in Monrovia, the Fenerbache of Turkey defence stalwart insisted that the 2-2 away result was not completely bad for Nigeria.
“What matters at this point now in the qualifying stage is to get the ticket to the final slated for early next year in South Africa. I don’t want us to make the same mistake we made the last time that costs us going to the Nations Cup jointly hosted by Gabon and Equatorial Guinea,” stressed the former Everton of England player.
Yobo insisted that all that the Eagles need in the return leg slated for the weekend of October 13 was a simple draw score line to be at the South Africa 2013 edition.
However, Keshi believes that lack of commitment on the part of the mostly Europe-based professional players cost Nigeria the three points of the first leg in Monrovia.
He therefore, read out his riot act before the final crucial leg in Calabar.
“I will appreciate players staying away and saying they cannot make it than for them to come and show Nigerians that we are not serious here. I recall that when we thought we were going to play on a synthetic pitch, I called Mikel Obi and he said it’s not healthy for him to play on such a pitch that is the type of maturity and honesty I want from all national team players," he howled.
Keshi also told all the 22 players that went for the battle of Monrovia, that henceforth any player invited and can’t make it the appointed time to camp, should not bother to come late as he will not be welcomed.
“Any player who cannot make it on time should just stay away, because we need all the time we can get to blend for our games, because the Nations Cup is just around the corner,” he said.
The former Anderletch of Belgium and Strasbourg of France big defence cover, said he can no longer watch the national team pick draws when victory is at the window.
“With this attitude on the pitch from top professionals that are in this collection, we won’t excel at the Nations Cup, that is what we want to stop,” he said.
Meanwhile, after nearly seven weeks of camping with the home-based players, the Super Eagles officially decamped Sunday and are scheduled to resume in the first week of October.
Keshi had after consulting with the NFF leadership, addressed the players at the Nnamdi Azikiwe Airport in Abuja, when the team returned from Monrovia, Liberia and told them that they can go their way as camp has officially be dissolved.
He said that those that will be needed for the Liberia return leg match will be notified early, he told the players.
Most of the foreign-based professionals, including team skipper, Joseph Yobo left after the talk and did not make it to the team Bolton White Apartment camp on Sunday morning.