By Jacob Ajom
For sometime now, the sporting media has been awash with reports of the re-appointment of Coach Stephen Keshi by the Nigeria Football Federation as Super Eagles handler. One man who has not been amused by these reports is former national team handler and one-time captain of the team, Christian Chukwu.
The former Enugu Rangers captain has queried the process that may have seen the return of Coach Stephen Keshi, alluding that it would not augur well for the country’s football.
Chukwu who captained the team to the 1980 Africa Cup of Nations triumph on home soil said he was baffled by the late decision by the football house and he questioned, “why has it taken them (the NFF) so long to re-appoint him when they knew, from the beginning, that he was going to be given a new contract?”
Chukwu insisted that the NFF’s delay in re-appointing the 2013 Afcon winning coach was a clear indication that they didn’t want him, in the first place. “If they needed him since after the World Cup, they should have said so. Remember, he was even pronounced sacked by the same NFF at some point he did not even have a contract with them.
“I insist that their body language says a different thing, while they are doing the direct opposite. It will not augur well for our football because there won’t be that cordial relationship between the coach and his employers. The team will suffer and the average Nigerian football fan will be worse off.”
He called on the national team handlers to concentrate on the home-based players. “They are the only set of players that can stay in camp for up to one month, baring weekend club engagements.”
He said his call for home based players was because, at the moment, Nigeria lacked quality players abroad.
“We used to have the likes of Kanu, Okocha, Oliseh, Yekini, among others who were household names in Nigeria before joining top European clubs. We no longer have their quality in Europe. Let players get established at home before going abroad. Only then can they get to play in top clubs.”