I attended an editors roundtable event on Tuesday where the guest of honour was Super Eagles coach, Stephen Keshi. Also in attendance were three other legends of the game. Segun “Mathematical” Odegbami, Henry Nwosu and Augustine Eguavoen. The common denominator for all four ex- internationals apart from being fantastic players, is that they all captained the national team. It was indeed an honour to be in the company of such distinguished gentlemen, all of whom I have the pleasure of knowing personally. Segun Odegbami regaled us with a lovely anecdote of how these “useless boys” (Keshi and Nwosu) lead the then New Nigeria Bank team to Ibadan to beat Shooting Stars 4-2 in their own backyard in 1982. Back in those days, Shooting simply didn’t lose at home, NNB beat them there, twice.
The event itself was notable for the fact the gentlemen of the press were invited to grill the Big Boss on the Eagles preparations for the World Cup. My colleagues in the media did that by asking very pertinent questions, which the Big Boss fielded quite well. He was even pressed into telling us that Osaze Odemwingie had apologised to all concerned for his past misdemeanors. Good news as Odemwingie’s experience will be needed in Brazil.
There were only two areas which I felt were not adequately addressed by Keshi. The continued exclusion of Ikechukwu Uche and the fate of members of his Africa Cup of Nations-winning squad, who are now warming the bench in their clubs. The question I ask the Big Boss is what criteria will he use when selecting his team for the World Cup? Past loyalties or current form?
Keshi even if he walks away today can hold his head high, as definitely the best Nigerian and arguably the best coach ever to have managed the Super Eagles. But the Big Boss must realise that he carries the hopes, dreams and aspirations of a 160 million Nigerians on his broad shoulders. His legacy depends on the choices he makes when selecting his final 23 for the World Cup.
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