Nigeria must decide what to do with Stephen Keshi – Ude Ikenna



It has been close to four months since the Super Eagles were dumped out of the Africa Cup of Nations qualifiers for the 2015 edition of the tournament which was eventually won by Cote d’Ivoire.

This was the team’s last game under Stephen Keshi. His assistant Daniel Amokachi, in an arrangement with the Nigeria Football Federation, took charge of the subsequent friendly matches in January. Since then there has been little development regarding the coaching position, with several NFF officials reportedly claiming that discussions were in the pipeline. However, the 53-year-old has had little clarity about how the situation will be resolved, and even as the national team returned to action against Uganda, the future appeared misty.

This issue has drawn lots of opinions and opposing views from stakeholders, administrators and former internationals alike.

While many are of the view that a new coach should be appointed, others insist that the Afcon-winning boss is still capable of leading the team to desirable heights.

Truth be told, neither of these suggestions lack viable reasons backing them up or legitimising sentiments behind them.

It is known to occur that sometimes some coaches fail to match their previous successes with their team and are thus sacked from their positions as coach. For instance, former Chelsea manager Roberto Di Matteo was dismissed just months after guiding the tam to their first European title glory.

Roberto Mancini was sent packing just a season after he led Manchester City to their first Premier League glory in decades.

On the other hand, teams like Cote d’Ivoire and AC Milan have, in the past, chosen to hold own to their trainers even in troubling times, and these coaches  subsequently went on to achieve  tangible successes.

Loyalty and resolve can pay off.

It has appeared clear that the NFF chiefs do not have total confidence in Keshi, otherwise they would not be dragging their feet about giving him another contract since his last deal came to an end.

It’s quite obvious that the NFF do not have much in terms of options for the position of the team’s coach. None of the currently available local coaches can be considered worth a try on the job as they either lack the required experience or have already being tested and dismissed as in the case of Shaibu Amodu and Samson Siasia.

Again, considering the run of events in the past year, it is suggestive that the federation cannot afford a reputable expatriate coach for the Eagles. Indeed, the examples Berti Vogts and a certain Lars Largerback may also dissuade them from following this route.

As such, it would be a wise step to allow Keshi to continue with the team rather than make changes that would rather draw the team further away from returning to their best. The defeat to Uganda only reminded us that Amokachi, another potential hopeful for the role, still has a lot to learn when it comes to managing the seniors.

It thus seems like the best decision to bring back Keshi.

Admittedly, the Big Boss’s stock has fallen following failure to reach the Cup of Nations, but faith in Keshi may well bring the good times back round again.

Either way, a decision needs to be made as soon as possible, particularly with the AFCON 2017 qualifiers and the 2016 CHAN competition just around the corner. Considering the pressing time concerns, it is surely two late to bring a new face into the hotseat—Nigeria need to settle and quickly, and more upheaval only threatens another cycle.

The Super Eagles cannot afford to find themselves on the outside of a major tournament once again.

The team might not return to its feet in just a twinkle of an eye, but there would surely be improvements as Keshi must have learnt some lessons from his past mistakes. With this in place, the Super Eagles can expect the return to form of their darling team well before any major tournament.

The whole of Nigeria gets to decide the direction their nation takes this weekend, but as far as the Super Eagles are concerned, only one key decision must be made.

For the good of stability, for the good of security, those at the Glass House must decide to bring Keshi back.



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