Friday, 28 December 2012

Coach Stephen Keshi and the Super Eagles Nations Cup Squad

The success of any football team in a competition depends on – amongst other factors – the constituent players. The Super Eagles has faltered in many previous competitions merely due to the deployment of poor personnel. This makes it imperative that only a well-balanced team comprising our best players be presented in South Africa next month as we attempt a third Nations Cup victory.

The African Nations Cup is not for experiments. Optimum performance during the competition will require talented as well as experienced players who have delivered consistently in the national colours, not half-baked ones who are feverishly struggling to make an impact in the team.

I have always advocated for coaches to be made to defend their team selections in a press conference for the sake of transparency because from his list of invitees to the Faro Camp, there are questionable selections which cast doubts as to whether Coach Stephen Keshi will be presenting our best possible squad in South Africa.

Keshi’s selection template encompasses a “quota” for home-based players, meant to encourage them. This plot out-rightly defies reason because a competition is not meant to encourage players. I suppose the last 12 months of “rebuilding” should have been enough encouragement for home-based players who have been unable to displace the foreign based players – poor as some of the foreign-based players are! This is in no way intended to undermine the home-based players; it is just the bitter truth.

Keshi’s ‘quota system’ is simply tantamount to depriving the team and country of the services of a countless exposed and perhaps more talented players abroad. It is simply a guarantee that the final team list will not comprise the country’s best players.

Coach Keshi has chosen a group of players from which he believes he can select a squad that can win Nigeria the 2013 Nations Cup. Everybody has his (rights to) choices and preferences and we can never totally agree with one another’s choices; but a poor choice is always glaring and I think Keshi has got it wrong on a number of counts.
The Super Eagles has struggled greatly in the defensive and creative departments, and unfortunately, these are the areas I dare say, Keshi has made most of the poor choices, in my estimation. I sincerely hope they do not end up hurting the feelings of football-loving Nigerians.

The duo of Godfrey Oboabona and Azubuike Agwueke has been given more opportunities than any other players in the current dispensation, but they have remained mediocre. For a back-line that has continued to struggle and which requires all the help it can get, going into a major tournament, I suppose Dele Adeleye, Gege Soriola and even Ugochukwu Ukah should have been considered for assessment. More so, Danny Shittu who was preferred to the aforementioned is looking unlikely to show up.
Taye Taiwo is not good enough, but if Juwon Oshaniwa is considered a better option, then perhaps more experienced Alex Nkume and Nurudeen Orelesi should have also gotten a look-in.
There has been much ado about Onyekachi Apam's fitness; wouldn’t it only be fair to invite him to ascertain the true situation? Besides there is still 4 weeks before the first game during which he could up his fitness.

The midfield boasts ample defensive options but the much desired creative and offensive drive is still lacking; yet Keshi chooses to ignore Lukman Haruna, but gambles on Rabiu Ibrahim!!!
Lukman Haruna is one of our most gifted creative players at the moment
Our coach also sentimentally chooses to exclude the experience, versatility and creativity of Kalu Uche and Osaze Odemwingie who have proven themselves over and again in competition situations at various levels.

On the wings, Keshi has put absolute faith in the form and fitness of Ahmed Musa and Victor Moses disregarding the need for other options by excluding more versatile and more experienced Obinna Nsofor and Osaze Odemwingie who can also play in a central striking role Keshi has overcrowded with internationally untested players.
Obinna Nsofor is one of Nigeria's most versatile players

The exclusion of Obafemi Martins and Kalu Uche is not justified, especially with the dearth of natural support strikers in the Super Eagles. Obafemi Martins’ experience, goal-scoring pedigree and his penchant for delivering when it matters the most cannot be overlooked, while Uche’s experience can only be rivalled by Shola Amoebi. I also believe Ekigho Ehiosun has more to offer the current team than Bright Dike.
The inclusion of Osaze Odemwingie and Obafemi Martins would be more beneficial than detrimental to the team
He may not be having the best career at club level, but I still rank Ambrose Uanzekin potentially above Chigozie Agbim and Daniel Akpeyi for his calming influence and outstanding performances en route two world finals. He has surely matured and can definitely do more, given the opportunity.

I would suppose it would be in best interest of the team and country for the coach to present a team comprising our best players so we could win the 2013 Nation’s cup and proceed to play at the Confederations Cup in Brazil next June where the players would garner further top-flight international experience, with qualification for the 2014 World Cup in view…

1 comment:

  1. The impending absence of Danny Shittu and Shola Amoebi who were almost certainly going to make the final 23, points to the likelihood of more high "high profile" loses due to last minute injuries. This alone makes it imperative that Keshi should drop all sentiments and personal biases against players, and go for the country's best players.
    He should dare to prove his mettle as the right man to lead the team by showing tact in overcoming the current rift and getting the best from players like Osage Odemwingie.