By Tony Ubani
Mali, trained byNigeria’s Stephen Keshi, would have still had a mathematical chance of qualifying for the World Cup had his team beaten Benin Republic and Ghana failed to beat Sudan the same weekend bad fate befell Nigeria in Abuja.

Same weekend, Mali were away to Benin Republic and after missing three close chances in the first half later went into a 1-0 lead but the home team equalized


two minutes to full time. That was exactly the same time that Tunisia leveled up in the 2-2 draw with Nigeria in Abuja. Keshi who has always held Nigeria to his heart, has also been monitoring events in Nigeria and couldn’t hold back his views when he spoke with this reporter.

“I have read a lot about the goings-on in Nigeria. I just wish to let them know that this is not the time to start apportioning blames on people. This is the time to fight on and see if luck can shine on you.

But before you talk about luck, you must do your own aspect of the job. Nigeria should make sure they win the remaining games and leave the rest to God. I know that it will be difficult but nobody should lose hope until it is over. I had the same problem. If I won my game in Cotonou, I would have still had chance for a World Cup slot but Benin equalized in the last minute.

I think that the Eagles need everybody’s support now than ever before. I have read about players blaming their colleagues and even officials blaming players. It is wrong. Everybody should be together in victory and in defeat. I have also read about some ex-players or coaches condemning Amodu. Colleagues don’t do that. You can discuss with these coaches and tell them your views and share ideas with them but not to publicly attack them. It creates more confusion.

There are things you coach and things players are expected to do. But whatever happens a coach takes responsibility. I have read even about coaches who played in Europe saying harsh things about the team. This is the time to say, gentlemen, we can still make it. That’s where the strong mentality comes in. Any time we had such a situation in my time, we would gather in one room and tell ourselves the truth.

We would tell the coach to excuse us and we will tell ourselves the truth and pledge to do everything to win in the subsequent games. This is what I expect from the players and not attacking each other.

As for my colleagues or other coaches, they should believe in the great thing they call time. I know why I’m saying this. Some are talking not because they want to correct anything but because they want to position themselves to possibly replace Amodu and his assistants. Everybody has his time. I didn’t make noise when the federation didn’t select me after many Nigerians campaigned for my engagement and the sports ministry even favoured me.

I knew that someday it will be my time to coach or be the head coach of Nigeria . Right now, it’s not my time or the time of those condemning everybody. They should all wait for their time. Until Amodu is out of the place, the best thing to do is to help him succeed. That is my position and I think it is the right position. This is the time to say, gentlemen, we can still make it, so let’s be focused. Nigeria should avoid the confusion that I read about in the media. For me in Mali , my target now is the Nations Cup qualification and by God’s grace we’ll be there.”


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