By John Egbokhan
Officials of the Nigeria Football Federation (NFF) have said that only positive results will save Stephen Keshi in his second-time spell as Super Eagles coach.
Keshi has come under scrutiny following reports linking him to the vacant Ivorian job and outburst of captain Vincent Enyeama on the suitability of the Ahmadu Bello Stadium in Kaduna on June 13. The Lille of France goalkeeper had said that Kaduna was not safe for the 2017 AFCON qualifying match because of the security situation in the northern part of the country.
His comments had fuelled security fears, prompting the NFF President, Amaju Pinnick to assure all that Kaduna was safe for the game. Eagles won the match 2-0 but the NFF later issued Enyeama and Keshi queries and invited both to appear before the Organising and Disciplinary committee, which the goalkeeper shunned. Keshi appeared before the NFF panel and cleared himself.
But we have gathered that some members of the NFF are not happy that Keshi has not been able to control his players. They traced this trend to the 2013 Confederations Cup when the players refused to fly to Brazil in a jet hired by FIFA. They agitated over match bonus and brought international shame to Nigeria. The next was at the 2014 FIFA World Cup in Brazil, where they threatened not to play France in the second round until their share of the FIFA World Cup money was given to them.
In all these, Keshi could not control the players. And now, Enyeama seems to be a problem that Keshi could not address.
Keshi appears to have lost control over his players, especially key acts like Enyeama and John Obi Mikel. Enyeama’s outburst really jolted the NFF that they had to double their security expenses. They said it would have been calamitous if Chad had acted on the statement and objected to play, fearing attacks on them during the game.
It was learnt that the statement by the former Enyimba goal-stopper caused panic in Kaduna and Governor El Rufai had to beef up security presence in the city. Sources told us that members also suspected that Enyeama preferred kwa Ibom to Kaduna.
We can however authoritatively report that while members frowned at the conduct of Keshi in the past, they said they were determined to give the former Togo and Mali coach full support to succeed.
But they said that Keshi has to help the situation by turning in good results that will endear him to Nigerians.
“Nobody will talk to Keshi or be harsh to him if he is winning. Results will keep him on the job”, one NFF source source said.