By Onochie Anibeze
ON Tuesday, Stephen Keshi will face the Technical Committee of the Nigeria Football Federation, NFF. He is expected to submit a provisional list of players for the 2014 Brazil World Cup to the federation and thereafter answer some questions from members and defend the list.
I have said a lot on this before. I expect that Keshi be given a free hand on technical matters but I also expect Keshi to be sincere about his selection and not give in to external influences.
In the first place, every coach at the World Cup would want to do well. So, I wonder why a coach would not pick the best that would produce results for him and his country. But I continue to harp on sincerity because I know that sometimes sentiments overwhelm some people. I also know that Keshi wants to win. He knows that his contract may not be renewed. That appears not to worry him going by the offers I understand are coming his way with a huge one coming from South Africa. And doing well in Brazil will enhance his marketability or value as the case may be. He is, therefore, condemned to do well in Brazil. And I think that he may get good results.
The questions I expect members of the Technical Committee to ask Keshi are not only on the list. If I were them, I would want to know how he plans to conduct the training camp. I would want to know what he will need in camp. I would want to know about the practice matches he has lined up. There should always be warm-up matches against local sides. I would want to know about the facilities in the camp. Will there be swimming pools, tennis or volleyball courts for certain exercises outside soccer pitches? Are there gym facilities?
I would want to know the plan to hire a special physiotherapist for the duration of the training up to the competition in Brazil. Every player gets a massage from time to time. I would want to know about a gym instructor for the early days in camp when we would need gym work. It is not all aspects of weight or fitness training that footballers do. Those that can cause muscle tears are avoided. Not all footballers know this. An instructor could, therefore, be hired for few days of gym work. What about field facilities and equipment?.
There are equipment for free kicks, attacking and defensive runs and for different drills. I would want to know what Keshi would want the technical committee to supply him or assist him with. I would want to know about many details from training to nutrition, relaxation and enforcement of camp rules or code of conduct. If I were a member of the Technical Committee, I would make Keshi and his crew to see us as partners in progress, as true brothers, a family. I would make them open up on problems so that we can tackle them as a team. Team work matters in team sports. And team work is not about players and coaches alone. The officials are also part of the team. In Nigeria, there is always apathy. Even when they publicly pledge to work together they still fight coldly. Sometimes it explodes. We don’t need that on the road to Brazil.
I would want to know from Keshi who will be going to watch matches of opponents and report to him their observations and suggestions. I would want to know who is in charge of statistical/tactical half time analyses and how they plan to work. This is not common in Nigeria but it is important in modern football. They record matches and quickly analyse opponents’ runs, their weak links and areas of strength. These they read well and pass on points to the coaches at half time and other times. They are also key in match reviews for the purposes of corrections and strategy. I would want Keshi to tell us everything that he needs to make our Eagles succeed. I would also formally inform the team through Keshi what the bonuses and allowances will be for the World Cup.
And if I were Keshi, I will be very sincere to the federation. I will defend the list, listen to them, consider their advice and bare my heart to them. I will not conceal any misgivings, bitterness and fears. I will thank the federation for the support so far and ask for more especially in the areas I mentioned above.
For now, the coaches are not moving as I expected. Iran is in South Africa. Who will be going there or who is already there? Where will Bosnia play friendly matches and who will be there? Same with Argentina. Logistics, team preparation, motivation, medicals etc. I will table everything before the federation and make them have confidence in their team. I will then go ahead with my plans but appreciating the fact that I may not get all I request from them. It is normal as I might not have also satisfied them in all areas. But I will go on to squeeze a lot into the training that may not be more than two weeks. The time is short and there will be no time for distractions.
This is Easter period. Peace should reign and bring forth results. Today is Good Friday. He was crucified today. But will rise on Sunday. May we share in His love. May God grant us the grace to love Him daily more and more and stay away from sin. May God grant us the wisdom to realise that He is for all in sports and that our opponents also pray to Him and that we shall reap what we sow. Calvary Greetings to you all. Happy Easter in advance.