• Monday, July 22, 2024
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BusinessDay

Keshi, NFF World Cup feud

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The ongoing conflict between Super Eagles head coach Stephen Keshi and the Nigerian Football Federation (NFF) is far from over, with the World Cup kick-off date fast approaching.

Last week, NFF queried Keshi for attending a sponsor’s event in Lagos on the day he had an appointment with the technical committee.

Keshi was also accused of embarking on an unapproved vacation to America, and just recently, the NFF disclosed that Keshi had also failed to reply to the issues raised in the query by the Chris Green-led committee.

Again, the provisional Super Eagles list for the FIFA World Cup has ignited the already frosty relationship between the Glass House and Keshi. The Technical Committee of the Nigerian Football Federation and Keshi has once more disagreed after Keshi refused to provide the requested provisional list of 35 players for the World Cup. The federation was hoping to announce this provisional list of 35 players for the World Cup at the end of the week.

NFF’s technical committee met with Keshi in Abuja last week demanding for an immediate release of a 35-man list from the coach. Keshi however refused to release the list, adding that he was under pressure to release the list and was not in a hurry to do so. Keshi also accused the technical committee of not communicating properly with him and that he only read about the list on the pages of newspaper.

The coach equally criticised the technical committee over putting pressure on him, adding:

“First, the report was that I was to submit 40 names. Now I am hearing it is 35 players. I will only submit a list of 30 players when I am ready.

In a relate development, Vincent Enyeama, Super Eagles first choice goal keeper, has voiced his opinion on the lingering crisis in Nigeria football. Enyeama urged the NFF officials to allow Keshi concentrate on his duties in order to build a strong and formidable squad to the World Cup in June.

“We read a lot about happenings in Nigeria, which most times are not palatable but we are the African Champions and we must let ourselves enjoy the moment while it lasts.

“We must take a very determined spirit to the World Cup and I trust the NFF people will listen and help concentrate on better preparation for the World Cup. In essence we don’t want to hear any story of disagreement in the football family, please,” Enyeama pleaded.

Meanwhile, there is hope for a peaceful resolution of all the crises as NFF technical committee meets on April 26 in Abuja to deliberate on the Nigeria’s plans for the World Cup in Brazil.

Committee chairman Chris Green confirmed that a new date has been set aside to discuss the lingering issues in the Super Eagles as regards Brazil 2014 World Cup.

This will include coach Stephen Keshi defending his provisional squad for the World Cup.

“The committee will meet on April 26 to discuss the World Cup,” Green said.

“Expectations are very high and so we cannot afford to fail.”

The original meeting on March 26 had to be called off after Keshi; citing flight difficulties from the USA could not make the meeting.

The meeting was then rescheduled for April 8, but members were enraged to find that the coach was attending an event in Lagos instead and threatened to boycott the new date.

NFF President Aminu Maigari and Technical Committee chairman Chris Green were forced to proceed on a fence-mending exercise after the meeting was rescheduled for a new date of April 22.

The re-conciliatory moves appear to have yielded fruit, with majority of the aggrieved members confirming their attendance.

But the trade-off is that Keshi is expected to face a tough and gruelling time over his World Cup squad selection policy, with many members unconvinced about his reasons for excluding some players.

The Super Eagles will meet Scotland on May 28 for a friendly match and will also play two more matches against the US and Greece in America before leaving for Brazil on June 1.

Nigerians have continued to express their displeasure over the frequent news of clashes and crisis between the NFF and Keshi. Many soccer loving Nigerians have opined that by now the NFF should be working round the clock on how to ensure that the Super Eagles put up a brilliant performance by providing all the necessary logistic, technical, human support for Keshi to excel at the Mundial, rather than engaging the coach in unnecessary squabbles.

 Anthony Nlebem