By John Egbokhan
Ex-international Paul Okoku has accused the Nigeria Football Federation (NFF) of pursuing personal vendetta against Super Eagles coach, Stephen Keshi.
Speaking on phone from his base in the USA, the 1984 Nations Cup silver medalist, said that it was sad that Keshi who guided the Super Eagles to the AFCON glory in South Africa a couple of months back, was being subjected to unnecessary attacks meant to frustrate him out of office.
A worried Okoku said that the decision to sack Sylvanus Okpala and for Keshi to be paying Valere Houndonou was questionable and capable of derailing Eagles’ qualification bid for the 2014 World Cup in Brazil, adding that it was curious that it was in the middle of such an important campaign that the NFF thought it wise to begin the reform process in the national team.
The former Flying Eagles star to the maiden edition of the FIFA U-20 World Cup in Mexico, said that if the NFF wanted to be sincere in their reformation process they would have started with themselves, by cutting down on overheads, rather reducing the strength of the same technical team that won the Nations Cup and was in the thick of a World Cup assignment.
According to Okoku, “I just find it rather curious and pained that the NFF are taking us back with all these issues that are coming out of our national team. It is just about two months that we won the Nations Cup and instead of positive vibes meant for the good of the national team, all we get are news of sacking of Keshi’s assistant coaches and reduction of winning bonuses.
“Of what good is the sacking of coaches to the Super Eagles? It is not going to help our cause of qualifying for the World Cup in Brazil. Let’s get serious and stop all these wicked politicking because it would end up doing more harm than good. If they want to reform, they should start with the federation and not with the team, which they did not give the chance to reach the semis of the last Nations Cup”, added Okoku.
While tracing the current actions to the last AFCON, Okoku said that NFF were yet to forgive the former Togo and Mali coach over his decision to say that he was going to quit the Eagles post.
“The NFF are clearly pursuing vendetta against Keshi for his decision to quit after he led the team to beat Burkina Faso in the finals of the AFCON. They still have not let it go and feel that Keshi must be punished for daring to dare them in South Africa.
“But what they do not know is that Nigerians are not dumb. They know what is happening and they know who to hold responsible if we fail to qualify for the World Cup. I have never seen a country where the coach who led the team to Nations Cup glory is being subjected to attack by his own federation but posterity will judge and I am sure that the cause of good would overshadow that of bad”, Okoku added.