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Mikel, Taiwo, Odemwingie and Aiyegbeni are not part of Stephen Keshi’s Super Eagles

Mikel, Taiwo, Odemwingie and Aiyegbeni are not part of Stephen Keshi’s Super Eagles. On Sunday, Nigeria kicks off her quest to make the next World Cup in Brazil with a

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قديم 06-02-2012, 02:41 PM
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افتراضي Mikel, Taiwo, Odemwingie and Aiyegbeni are not part of Stephen Keshi’s Super Eagles

Mikel, Taiwo, Odemwingie and Aiyegbeni are not part of Stephen Keshi’s Super Eagles. On Sunday, Nigeria kicks off her quest to make the next World Cup in Brazil with a game against the Brave Warriors of Namibia at the UJ Esuene Stadium, Calabar.

While I wish the Super Eagles the best of luck in the encounter, my thoughts this weekend are on a still simmering (but potentially divisive) issue following Stephen Keshi’s decision to leave out a number of known faces for the encounters, which also sees the Eagles playing Malawi and Rwanda in a hectic qualification programme.

It was top item on the internet and major news services around the world when Keshi released his list for the June assignment and there was no John Obi Mikel, Taye Taiwo and Yakubu Aiyegbeni on the list!

For many it was quite unbelievable - Mikel plays for newly crowned UEFA Champions League winners, Chelsea whilst Aiyegbeni’s 17 Premier League goals is no child’s play while Taiwo was a regular for Queens Park Rangers - and yet the trio were still not good enough for the Eagles handler.

But before we get carried away by the pros and cons of this action; there is one incontestable fact – a coach is only as good as his last game.

What do I mean by this? Simple, Keshi will not be in the cross hairs of critics if he is able to safely negotiate the SA 2013 and Brazil 2014 June programmes, however, should the unexpected happen then he will be in for the roasting of his life (even though results may have gone awry even with the presence of the trio!)

But that is the life of a coach he has to sink or swim with the choices he makes – get it right and he is hailed; get it wrong and he is crucified.

Another undeniable truth though is that no coach wants to lose which presupposes that he will only select the players he believes can help him achieve his goal.

Ironically even the best coach in the world can not satisfy everybody with his choice of players – there will always be some one some where asking why so and so player is in the team or left out.

Initially when I got the news of Mikel’s exclusion my first thought was because of his previous ‘pick and play’ attitude with national engagements.

However, when I spoke with someone very close to the ‘Big Boss’ a new dimension was revealed – the Chelsea man (and others excluded players) does not fit into the coach’s game plan at present!

It is natural that Keshi will have his own idea of how his team should look like and it is his prerogative as the coach to choose his team knowing that he will be judged by his results.

Like I said earlier, no one will raise an eyebrow should he win all three games comfortably, however, (God forbid) he will be vilified should the unthinkable happen.

Presently Keshi has Gariel Reuben and Fengor Ogude filling in Mikel’s roll, while Elderson Echejile and Juwon Oshaniwa play at left back (Taiwo’s position) whereas Kalu Uche and Sunday Mba are strikers.

In the seven games so far played with Keshi in charge, the Eagles have only lost twice – which is not a too bad.

He (Keshi) was smart enough (in going with the mood at the time) to say that he was building a team for the future when he was appointed and would be relying a lot more on home-based players to achieve this.

What this has indirectly done is to give the local league a massive boost. NPL players now know that that they do not have to go to Armenia before they are considered good enough for the Super Eagles. and this why more than anything else is I hope he succeeds!

Please let me digress a bit and highlight some incidences of coaches’ love or otherwise for certain players.

At the Beijing Olympics many Nigerian journalists were so exasperated with Samson Siasia’s insistence on using Isaac Promise and Solomon Okoronkwo that he was confronted.

Of course he justified his position even if many of us did not buy it.

Before then Mutiu Adepoju was a surprise inclusion in Nigeria’s team to Korea/Japan 2002. However, when the issue was raised with then coach, Chief Adegboye Onigbinde at the Eagles Federal Palace Hotel lodge, the FIFA Instructor also espoused his reasons for including a player many believed was way passed his prime.

At the 1989 U20 World Cup in Saudi Arabia, Jimoh Balogun (Tyson) was a prominent member of the Flying Eagles to the chagrin of many. But coach Tunde Disu (MON) insisted that his physical strengthens compensated for all his other deficiencies as a player.

David Ginola was one of the most gifted players to ever come out of France, but one error in the race for USA’94 World Cup was to end his international carer prematurely.

Gerard Houllier never forgave him for the misplaced pass which contributed in Bulgaria denying Les Blues a World Cup ticket.

This meant that the French star, whose dashing football with Tottenham Hotspur lit up the Premier League, only won 17 caps for his country.

Aime Jacquet, who was to take over from Houllier, turned a deaf ear to a chorus of calls for him not to do away with Eric Cantona, Ginola and Jean-Pierre Papin (who was one of the most feared strikers in Europe) from his national team. However, Jacquet insisted (like Keshi) that he was building a team for the future and stood is ground.

Although France failed to do particularly well at Euro’96, Jacquet was, however, vindicated two years later when his Les Blues triumphed at France’98.

And so as the Eagles step up their quest to make South Africa 2013 and Brazil 2014 I will appeal to Nigerians (including NFF officials) to give Keshi some slack and wait and see if he and his wards deliver the results that will make us all happy.

Of course he (Keshi) knows what will happen should he fail!
Mikel, Taiwo, Odemwingie and Aiyegbeni are not part of Stephen Keshi’s Super Eagles

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