By ONOCHIE ANIBEZE
On the blast of the final whistle Richard Gahonzire, an Executive member of Rwanda Football Federation, approached this reporter and said “why did Osaze snub Stephen Keshi?
When it was clear that Osaze Odewengie was not getting it right in the Nations Cup qualifier last Wednesday he was substituted and Victor Moses came in and showed that he was a star in the making for Nigeria. He controlled the ball well and had precision in his attack.
When Keshi stood and stretched his hand to pat Osaze on the back as he was leaving the pitch Osaze ignored Keshi and quickly reached for a bottle of water.
He appeared unhappy that he was being substituted. But Keshi did not look at his face. His eyes were focused on the field and he probably did not see Osaze’s action. But those who watched closely saw what happened.
Osaze wasn’t happy that he was substituted and walked straight to the bench, reaching out for a bottle of water instead of shaking his coach Stephen Keshi. He could have taken the water and still responded to Keshi’s pleasantry. He did not. His countenance pictured his mind.
“I did not even take notice of what he did as I had my eyes on the pitch at the same time,” Keshi said when this reporter asked him about it.
Richard who saw it all was outraged.
“Was Osaze sad that he was changed,” Richard, rhetorically, asked again?
“I told you that the match would be a David and Goliath affair and your stars from Europe almost made it so. Our fans expected a lot from them but they were no where in this match. These big names have been failing your country and today wasn’t different.”
Richard, like their coach Militi, has been monitoring Nigeria’s football and knew why Nigeria did not qualify for the last Nations Cup.
Keshi, Daniel Amokachi, Sylvanus Okpala, Valere and Shorunmu all agreed that Nigeria could have won the match if they fielded the team that beat Liberia two weeks ago. They have concluded to field more of the local players in subsequent matches especially during the qualifiers for Nations Cup and World Cup.
They have been building a new national team and want to build confidence into the local Eagles. Four played in Kigali and excelled more than the Europe-based players.