By Ben Efe
…As Onigbinde dismisses critics
Stephen Keshi’s 32 man tentative list for the Nations Cup 2013 is generating discussions after top strikers Obafemi Martins and Osaze Peter Odemwingie were overlooked.
But two former ex-international Franklin Howard and Mutiu Adepoju have given pass marks to coach Keshi even as they expressed surprise at the dropping of Obafemi and Osaze, two players who are currently in top form for their various clubs.
“I don’t know why he dropped those two. But he must have his reasons. However, I believe that he has enough fire power to carry the team to the final of the Nations Cup. As for Taye Taiwo, I don’t think he will be missed, there are capable replacements. I have faith in Keshi that after the camping in Faro, Portugal he will give us a very good team from the home based and foreign based players,” said Howard, a former teammate of Keshi during their Flying Eagles days.
Also speaking was former Eagles attacking midfielder Mutiu Adepoju. He submitted that Keshi has his reasons for dropping the top players.
“There will always be issues whenever a coach releases his team list. Keshi cannot be faulted, we can only wait and see what he will come out with after the camping in Portugal,” said Adepoju, who also played with Keshi in the Super Eagles.
Keshi had revealed that Osaze was not willing to play for Nigeria, but the West Brom goal hero denied. He stated that he was ready to lace the boots for the Eagles. It was gathered that his poor relationships with previous coaches of the national team might have been responsible for his omission. Obafemi, despite a good run of form for Levante, failed to impress the coach in their friendly against Venezuela.
On some criticisms that greeted the provisional list, Chief Adegboye Onigbinde argued that anyone who is not in Keshi’s mind cannot justifiably criticise him on the players he invited or ignored.
“Anyone who does not have possession of the tactics, pattern and strategy of Keshi does not have the justification to criticise him over this list,” Onigbinde told supersport.com
He equally dismissed insinuations that the Illah-born gaffer may have been pressurised to invite some players, adding that, “Even at club level, coaches face this kind of pressure so you can imagine the kind of pressure they will face at international level.
“When I was coach of Shooting Stars, I had a list of ‘political players’ but when they proved themselves, I drafted them into the main side. If they didn’t, they never played. Yes, there are pressures as a coach but it is left to the coach to decide how best to deal with such pressures.”