By Onochie Anibeze
Stephen Keshi and his crew are delighted that the local Eagles are developing fighting spirit as they continue to build a new national team.
Zambia doggedness contributed more in winning the African Nations Cup for them than any flair.
And what now delights Stephen Keshi and his crew is the fighting spirit that the local players are developing as Keshi and his crew continue to build a new national team for Nigeria.
Their attitude informed Keshi’s decision to invite only 11 Europe-based pros for the Nations Cup tie against Rwanda next Wednesday. About 11 local players will make the trip.
”This has boosted the morale of the players and you need to observe the fighting spirit in camp now,” Daniel Amokachi said in their Bolton Apartment abode in Abuja Monday night.
Keshi, Amokachi, Okpala, Shorunmu and Valere were in a meeting with Dr. Ikpeme, head of technical department, when Vanguard visited. The atmosphere was warm and the analysis on individual players impressed.
”We respect the vision of Keshi. His target is high and the good thing is that we are of like minds and we have queued in to ensure that we achieve that target.
We need time and support from everybody. We are determined. From the way we are going, we will get there,” Amokachi, sounding very confident, said.
The immediate task is the tie in Rwanda and the crew was already deliberating on possible tactics and selection for the match. Some players from Europe are to arrive at the weekend and some will arrive on Monday just hours before they fly out to Rwanda. How to make everybdoy get a dose of training was being worked out.
”We are united and these boys are working hard,” Keshi said. And to make for better planning and unity the crew was unanimous in deciding that players in the national camp will lose their places if they go for trials abroad.
”It doesn’t make sense that you are building and the house is daily being depleted by the unreasonable exodus of players,” Keshi said of their decision to make players see reason to stay at home, develop and move when they are ripe to do so.
”We want a situation where our players will be good to go to Europe and sign contracts and not to leave here for trials. Many times they don’t end up well.
They end up in poor leagues where they can’t develop. If some players from Ivory Coast and some other countries go to Europe to sign up contracts straight from home why are Nigerian players cheapening themselves by rushing out for trials in all manner of leagues?
We must try to stop this and help our football. If you play regularly for Super Eagles of Nigeria you will not be subjected to trials and clubs and their agents will come to where we are playing to look for you and not you chasing them and cheapening yourself. That is the standard we want to set,” keshi said.
They have told players that it would pay them more to develop well before going to Europe where managers do not have the time to teach players some basics. And any player who leaves the camp for trials does no longer return to the team if he fails in the trials. But a player who leaves to sign up contract in a big club may still earn their respect.
Zambia won the Nations Cup with a young team made up of local players. Amokachi’s hope is that they will build such a strong team at home that invitation to Europe-based players will be limited to “only the ones who are hot in their leagues.”
Building a strong and united team that will have the features of a family is uppermost in their minds and with 11 pros coming from Europe for the game next week it means some of the local players will play and some may even start the game on Wednesday.