By John Egbokhan
Former Vasco Dagama captain, Obed Ariri has described Coach Stephen Keshi as a trailblazer, who he is backing on to lead Nigerian football to a new heights.
Ariri,who was the first Nigerian in the USA to play professional American football, told Sports Vanguard, that he was confident that Keshi would qualify the Super Eagles to 2014 World Cup in Brazil.
“No matter how critical I am in this game, Coach Stephen Keshi has my full support. He is a trail blazer and has distinguished himself. His job has not been easy at all but my honest advise to him is to integrate and aggregate the interests of his critics and before he knows it, he will enjoy massive support and cooperation from everyone.
“As for the 2014 World Cup in Brazil, I don’t see anything stopping us from qualifying. Keshi and our Super Eagles will make Nigeria proud. By the grace of God, I hope to be there to support them all the way in their bid to make history”, Ariri, who is based in USA said.
Reflecting on Nigeria’s outing at the 2013 FIFA Confederations Cup in Brazil, Ariri said that the Eagles crashed out because of blunt attack and loose defence.
“I am not criticizing the Super Eagles players out of envy or acrimony, rather I am trying to inspire and motivate them because criticism according to the late Prime Minister, Sir Winston Churchill.”like a pain in the human, it calls our attention to an unhealthy state”. The Super Eagles played well in Brazil but not well enough to win.
“As a sportsman,I have been criticized before but all it does is that it brings out the best in me. I call on all Patriotic Nigerians to encourage and support the Super Eagles win or lose. Soccer is a team sport. It takes time to get the chemistry working. This is exactly what Keshi is trying to do.
“After watching the game against Spain, I observed that offensively, we weren’t a threat to their defense and we couldn’t capitalize when we had the opportunity. We didn’t put pressure or tried to halt the build up play as early as possible
“We allowed Spain to dictate the pace of the game by allowing them move the ball forward at pace and with intensity, shifting the ball between the lines quickly. To counter them, we definitely needed an aggressive striker, which sadly we did not have on that day.
“Defencively, we need to tighten up. A good, solid, no nonsense defence always gives the offence a second chance.. Unfortunately,I must say we were out coached in that game. Our Coaching staff should be able to study the game as it develops. Their main duty is to make necessary changes by shifting, advising and adjusting their players to upset the opponent’s strategy”, added Ariri.
On the roles the Association of Nigerian Ex-Internationals in Diaspora hopes to play in Nigeria, Ariri said “ANED will enunciate creative programmes that will harness the energies, skills and talents of youths to bring out the best in them for the mutual benefit of the States and our beloved country.
“We will encourage our youths to develop their natural talents in sports and education. We shall also aim to develop mini-stadia and play grounds and promote the development of skill centers and training facilities.
For all patriotic Nigerians, this is a call to duty. Our situation is not hopeless, but we must take action now.
“We are made up of well respected, talented and educated Nigerian ex-internationals, comprising Tony Igwe,Christian Nwokocha, Andy Atuegbu, Paul Okoku,Thompson Usiyan, Totty O Totty, Charles Okoye, Mathew Onyemah, Andrew Uwe, Nathaniel Ogedegbe,Moniedafe, and Damian Ogunsuyi. Others are, Godwin Odiye, Ike Ofoje, Sam Okpodu, Femi Olukanni, Dehinde Akinlotan, Humphrey Edobor, Fatai Atere, and Godwin Iwelumo”, added Ariri.
Comments expressed here do not reflect the opinions of Vanguard newspapers or any employee thereof.