By Tony Ubani
The Nigeria Football Federation has finally agreed with the sports ministry on the need to hire a foreign technical adviser for the Super Eagles after the team struggled in their last two matches of the Nations Cup in South Africa.
The team play Ethiopia tomorrow at the Royal Bafokeng Stadium in Rustenburg in a must win match if they want to avoid the indignity of crashing out in the first round. They currently have two points from two matches.
Sports Vanguard can confirm that the Nigeria Football Federation which shielded Keshi from pressures from the Sports Ministry to hire an expatriate coach has finally given their seal of approval to hire a world class coach who will tinker the team for the World Cup qualifiers in Brazil.
Very reliable sources here told Sports Vanguard that youthful Sports Minister, Bolaji Abdullahi had been irritated by the performance of the Eagles in the Nations Cup, a situation he attributed to the technical incompetence of the technical crew.
Senate and House Committee chairmen were also said to be disappointed by the performance of the Eagles under Keshi.
“NFF have seen reason that it needs an expatriate to select the best players in the land devoid of sentiments and field the best players and make appropriate changes in a match situation”.
I gathered that the NFF officials had queried Keshi’s final list of players to the Nations Cup but kept their cool to avoid being accused of interference,”the minister reportedly said.
And after the two annoying draws against Burkina Faso and Zambia, the NFF changed gear to look for a coach who can lead Nigeria out of the current embarrassment in South Africa.
Questions have been asked on why Keshi dropped Chibuzor Okonkwo when he has no natural right back. “Why did he drop Kalu Uche, Nigeria’s best player at the 2010 World Cup in South Africa and came with a ‘school boy’ Obiora Nwankwo?
Why did he drop Raheem Lawal? Why is he leaving Ike Uche on the bench and allowing Ahmed Musa to roam around aimlessly on the pitch. Ike Uche remains top scorer at the qualifiers and scored a hat-trick in one of his friendlies in Faro? Yet he brings him in three minutes to the end of match”, the source asked.
Keshi was also scored low with his changes which they said were not effective.
However, we gathered that Keshi raised issues over the rumours on foreign coach and NFF members, apparently to avoid confusion in camp now promptly denied it.
But the fact is that the call for a foreign coach was being made by the sports minister who now has backers because of the way Eagles have played so far.
“I don’t think this is the time to talk about hiring a coach in the middle of a competition and with an important match at hand. The team are not bad as we have seen them improve with every match.
The match against Zambia was drawn because of a dubious penalty by Egyptian referee Grisha Ghead”, a source from the Eagles fired back.