The country has a few months to pause and ponder on his seven-month work on rebuilding the morale and results of the national teamCOMMENT
By Babajide Alaka
Stephen Keshi has been the coach of the national team for the last seven months and with the lull in activities, it is time to get feedback and do some analysis on what has been happening to the team under his watch.
After the win over Rwanda last weekend in Calabar, Keshi said he was pleased with his team’s progress. "We have reached a point where I think we can really rediscover Nigerian football and we again appeal for understanding from all football loving Nigerians."
The understanding he must be talking about has to be the manner of the wins and the way that the Eagles have played in the last seven months. In his first ten matches, the Eagles scored 11 goals – that is an average of one goal per match. They have conceded five goals in that time also, conceding three in the game against Egypt in April. The other goals that have been conceded were against Peru and the gaffe by Vincent Enyeama against Malawi.
Super Eagles | The face of Keshi's rebuilding process
In the 10 matches, Keshi has used over 30 players in his seven-month stint as head coach and has given the home-based players the confidence to compete for shirts. So, at least one positive index about Keshi’s tenure so far is that Nigeria Premier League players now know that if they play well and consistently, they have every chance of playing for the Super Eagles. Against Rwanda last weekend, the Eagles started with six home-based players, a very good omen indeed!
But the question is whether what he is doing is the right thing for Nigeria’s national team as the 2013 Africa Cup of Nations and the 2014 Fifa World Cup just around the corner.
Now there is a two-month break before the next competitive match in September, which will be a two-legged final Nations Cup qualifier but given the current situation of the team, the question that needs to be asked is if we want to how we are at the present time – effective but not appealing?
And the answer for most Nigerians will be a combination of both, the Super Eagles have to woo the fans that have deserted the team with performances that will bring goals as well as be appealing to the ordinary fan that are already inundated with good football courtesy of satellite television.
Ikechukwu Uche | Scored twice in three games for the Super Eagles in June
Striker Ikechukwu Uche summed up the situation succinctly after the game against Rwanda in Calabar.
“Fans cannot select the team but they can voice their opinions but at the end of the day, the decisions are the coach's to be made.
“The coach has his ideas and he decides who will be called to camp so we have to leave him to choose what he thinks will be okay for the team. Fans will always be divided in their opinions - some will be in favour and some will not and that is what makes the game interesting.
“But it is left for the coach to look for his best team, the best players that will be able to give him and the fans what they want,” concluded the striker who has scored twice in the last three matches.
So the conclusion of all the seven months can thus be encapsulated in these next words. The Super Eagles do not score much but will not concede much and though the football is not ‘sexy’, it is effective and result-oriented.