By Onochie Anibeze
Nigerians Sunday night celebrated the dramatic 4-4 draw Mali earned in the opening match with Angola. They were all happy that Stephen Keshi, the former Eagles captain who is Mali’s coach ended up unscathed after being 4-0 goals down.

Uche Okafor, ex international, now in USA: First half was terrible for Keshi. Based on the quality of players, the likes of Keita and Kanoute, they should have done more than I saw in the first half. I think that it had to do with the psychology of opening matches.

They are always difficult because of the tension that characterises them. I am very happy for Keshi that he got that draw. They played better in the second half and the match was one of the dramatic events I have ever seen. Good game for Keshi but I know that they can  better.

Ben Akwuegbu, ex international, now in UK: “Keshi led his team well going by the way the game changed in the second half. He was very good when he coached us. I saw his quality in the team that equalised after being 4-0 down. Keshi is a good coach and a good leader. I want other Nigerian coaches to emulate him. I also want to wish Eagles well against Egypt.

Martin Anyanwu, Head Corporate Affairs, UBA: “Are we looking for foreign coach or white coach? If we are looking for a foreign coach, I have one in the Malian coach, Mr. Keshi who unfortunately is not white but we can paint him white if that will make us happy.

Tell me the white coach who can squeeze water out of stone, even in a premiership, Serie A or La Liga? I’m not talking about his feat a few minutes ago but see what he did with Togo and now Mali. Give him Kenya, Malawi or Sudan, he will do the same. It is time I took interest in this NFF position.

Nwabufo Obienu, former NFA vice chairman: What impressed me were not just the goals but also how Keshi was unruffled throughout the tough times. He was calm and did his job well. When it was 4-1, I told my wife that Mali would equalise. It happened.

Fantastic. I like their brand of football. It was exciting, not like our own. Look at those crosses. Once they kept coming, I knew goals would follow. Keshi maintained a 4-3-3 formation, occasionally changing to 4-4-2 and returning back to 4-3-3. If they had more minutes, they would have probably beaten Angola.

Coming from 4-0 down to level up against a home team in an opening match was a great feat. I’m proud of Keshi. Look at that Kanoute header. Can anybody score that type of goal in Eagles? I don’t think so. Who can head that way in Nigeria? When Kanoute and Keita were not playing well, it dawned on them that their reputation was at stake.

They changed and started fighting, started stamping their authority in the game. It paid off. I like the way it ended and I think that they will beat Algeria and have a chance to proceed.

Danladi Bako, Ace broadcaster: “I have to congratulate Nigerians on the Keshi feat. I’m proud of what he has done. I think that we have quality in the man and coaches like him should help Nigeria out. He should be in Nigeria when his contract with Mali expires.

Okey Celestine Eze, pharmacist: What a dramatic match. Coming down from 4-0 to level up was unbelievable. I’m happy for Keshi. Let’s see what happens next.


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