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Are these players Nigerians?

By Tony Ubani in Morocco
The legends of Nigerian football are here in Morocco at the on-going U-23 Olympic soccer qualifier. Current coach, Stephen Okechukwu Keshi, Peter Rufai as co-ordinator of the U-23 team, Austin Eguavoen, coach of the U-23 team, Ben Iroha, assistant coach of the team and Aloy Agu who is the goalkeeper’s trainer.

These faces represent the legends of Nigerian football and a constant reminder of the glorious days of Nigerian football.

The U-23 team have smeared Nigerians with stinking shame by their woeful performance here. They have lost two games to Morocco and Senegal – teams they should not have lost to. But the truth remains that we have no team. No character. No players with vim and vitality.

Moroccans have shown their love to the Nigerian team, loving them for the efforts and their heroes past. They thought the Nigerian team still have the fire, flair and beauty that those mentioned above and others had while playing. From start to finish, they cheered lust fully to the Nigerians but switched their cheers when they saw that the Nigerians had nothing to offer.

They have not stopped asking if indeed these current players were Nigerians or were imported to wear the Nigerian colours.

When some Moroccans saw Keshi, Eguavoen, Rufai, Aloy Agu, Iroha, they romped into celebration. “These are the Nigerian Eagles. Keshi. Rufai, Iroha(don’t mind their pronunciation).

After the plaudits given to the players, Keshi was touched that he shook his head and declared that Nigerian football must rise again.

Senegal's Serigne Modou (L) fights for the ball with Nigeria's Obiora Nwanda (R) during their Group A under 23's knockout match, an African countries qualifier for the 2012 Olympic Games, on November 29, 2011 in Tangier. AFP PHOTO

“Did you see what happened now? Our football is down and everybody including outsiders know it. We have a lot of work to do but I tell you that we must raise a team that everybody will be proud of”.

The legends are downcast and embarrassed by the deluge of questions on what is wrong with the Nigerian football.

Journalists are not left out of the shame. Moroccans spot those wearing Nigerian colours here and question them on what is happening to Nigerian football.

Who holds the panacea for the revival of the once beautiful game in Nigeria? Please contact Keshi for the re-building process has started. Like they say, the harvest is plenty but the labourers are very few.



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