By Paul Bassey
Mark Anthony: Let but the commons hear the testament which pardon me, I do not want to read…..For they would go and kiss dead Caeasr’s wounds and dip their napkins in his sacred blood 4th Plebeian: We’ll hear the will. Read it Mark Anthony.

All:The will, the will we will hear Caesar’s will…

Mark Anthony:Have patience, gentle friends, I must not read it….

-Shakespear’s Julius Caesar, Act 3 Scene 2.

Happy to be back, after three weeks that seemed like eternity.

In coming back, permit me to draw us back, back to April 22, 2014, the day we emerged from that famous Technical Committee meeting, “without a list”

It is a day I will never forget. A day that the media insisted on the list. “ the list they said, we want the list.

The list was not going to be given to them by force. No one said the list was going to be given to them that day. The NFF had decided to meet with Coach Stephen Keshi to discuss World Cup plans, including of course his world cup list.

Coach Stephen Keshi
Coach Stephen Keshi

When we left the meeting, no one bothered about the plans and preparations. Will there be a friendly match in Nigeria to send off the Eagles? Will there be a fund raising to support the Eagles budget? Are we expecting the release of funds adequately and timely?. No those were irrelevant. Give us the list.

The list I said was not ready. The coach had said there was no hurry, that no country had yet released the list and that there was need for him to consult further….

The list I said was going to be ready in a week’s time. The week that followed was cacophony personified. The media went to town. Terrible reasons were advanced on why the list was not ready. Some said there was even no list at all……..others invented the blows that were exchanged at the meeting as Keshi clutched the list refusing to release it to the NFF…….

When it was time for the list to be released ( as promised ) Some of my colleagues called on D Day asking me when and how the list was going to be released. I replied that I was out of the country and some jocularly replied that not able to stand the heat, I was running away from the kitchen…..

Who, was going to release the list?

I told them that it was customary for the coach to release the list himself, and even answer some questions if need be.

Was I sure the list was going to be released?

I was sure.

As a member of the Special five man CAF Inspection team to the six countries that have bid to host the African Nations Cup in 2019 and 2021, the call of duty had taken me to Algeria and Cameroun, incidentally, two of the countries that are also going to the World Cup!

The list situation in Cameroun and Algeria was not different from the Nigeria situation. The only marked difference was that the meeting of the coaches and the Federations to discuss the list was not publicized, so no one came out of the meeting to meet a legion of reporters and a battery of cameras insisting on the list!

Like Nigeria, the coaches insisted on having their way. In Algeria there is the case of the coach dropping a player because “ ….he cannot feel him……”

When the list was finally released, the press went wild. In Cameroun, the media accused the coach of taking some players he wants to trade with. In Algeria the media believed that there should be more emphasis on fitness and ability instead of emotions……so much ink and decibels thrown forth.

At a brief ceremony held in Lagos recently with Keshi in attendance, I had the occasion to tell the media that we were all going to same destination but from different roads. That we have all contributed what we think should be a perfect list but that it can never work out that way because if Paul Bassey is coach today,( Thank God I am not ) the players he will take to the world cup will NOT be the players Tony Ubani will take…..

We have credible examples in the dropping of players like Nasri from the French list and Carlos Tevez from the Argentina list. Therefore we should all now forget the issue of list and queue behind the team, support them with our thoughts and our prayers because should Keshi fail ( God forbid ) it is Nigeria that has failed.

Why have I gone back to this? Because after Scotland’s match on Wednesday, the media is likely to surface again, because in a few days when the Coach will drop the seven that will not go to the world cup, the media will come to the fore.

I now appreciate those coaches that went straight to their twenty three. The English coach immediately placed seven players on “standby” and faced the firing squad of the media once and for all. Not so Coach Keshi who, although a lot of people believe knows the seven that will not go to the world cup must still be facing some sleepless nights as to the wish that he has made the right decisions.

Yes the media should do its work, but I will not be that player that will go and slap the referee after the penalty has been awarded, quite conscious of the fact that he will never change his mind.

No I will not. I will simply walk away, turn my back, bury my head in my hands and pray God that the penalty is not scored.

A tear for Jabby, farewell for Gusau

I was away when I heard that Public Relations maestro, longest serving image maker of the National Sports Commission and member of the Sports Veterans fraternity, Chief Ajibade Fashina Thomas has lost his son abroad. Chief Jabby, my sympathy. Be strong in The Lord.

Also of deep regret is the death of Ibrahim Gusau whose tenure as Chairman of Organising and Disciplinary committee of the league saw great improvement in the running of the league. Only the good lord will be able to console his family and members of the football fraternity in Nigeria.

See you next week .



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