Once again Keshi disappoints Nigerians


The less fancied Nigerian national team had just beaten tournament favourites, Ivory Coast to qualify for the semi final of the Africa Cup of Nations, AFCON 2013.

Not surprisingly the streets were quiet as most fans of the Super Eagles retired to their homes disappointed at the result. A few stayed out for drinks, albeit quietly.

This kind of result had happened a few times in the last twenty five years for Nigeria and we all know how we reacted to the results then.

In 1989 at the World Youth Championship in Saudi Arabia, Nigeria’s U20 team were 4 goals down against the Soviet Union until about 25 minutes left to play and still equalized and won the game via penalty shoot out. As soon as the game ended, Nigerians littered the streets, singing, dancing and showing support to their team.

In 1996 at the Olympic Games football event, Nigeria was 3-1 down to Brazil in the semi final but still won the match 4-3 and Nigerians again filled the streets, some even tearing off their clothes in celebratory ecstasy. That game ended at an unholy hour of the night but it didn’t stop Nigerians from filling up the streets.

Then in 2004, Nigeria was set to play Cameroon in the quarter final of the AFCON.

At that time Nigerians feared Cameroon. They had beaten Nigeria in three AFCON final games- 1984, 1988 and 2000 and fans were apprehensive but supportive. Most Nigerians didn’t think the Super Eagle stood a chance to beat the Cameroonians but hoped silently that the Eagles would.

When John Utaka’s goal went in and the referee sounded the final whistle for Nigeria’s 2-1 win there was commotion in Nigeria as fans poured on the streets celebrating.

Sadly, all that has changed for the Super Eagles as they do not seem to have fans any more, at least they do not have too many.

The Ivory Coast have in recent times beaten Nigeria at the AFCON.

In 2006, Nigeria lost to the Ivoriens after Didier Drogba scored a goal most still erroneously believe was offside.

At the 2008 edition in Ghana, the Ivory Coast beat Nigeria again. The Ivoriens are said to have a golden generation that should have won every AFCON since 2006 but have none.

Surprisingly, rather than stay behind their team nine out of ten Nigerians were sure the Super Eagles would lose.

It was mayhem on social media and on radio shows in the run down to the game.

One popular radio presenter based in Lagos said he would dance the Azonto (a popular West African dance move) naked on the streets of Lagos if Nigeria wins the game.

A caller on a radio show in Port Harcourt said he could bet on anything that Nigeria would be knocked out by the Ivoriens.

A Nigerian journalist in South Africa covering the games twitted an hour to the game that she was so sure Nigeria would lose to Ivory Coast.

Some even went as far as insulting individual members of the team, coaching crew and asking why a former coach who was supposedly better was sacked when he failed to qualify the team for the 2012 AFCON.

Some said they would not even bother watching the game because Nigeria would be embarrassed with goals.

One said on twitter that the game would be comfortably over by the 70th minute.

The negativity and total disconnect across the country was so thick you could drill a hole in it and get crude oil.

90% of the Nigerian football watching population were so sure the Super Eagles would lose that they only watched the game to tell the few who believed that they told them so.

But from the start of the game, the Eagles showed grit, commitment and a desire to silence the overhyped Ivoriens. These qualities could only have been “forced” on them by their coach, Stephen Keshi.

When Nigeria eventually won the game most people just retired to their homes.

Those who would have celebrated a great win like this on the streets were actually angry with the result because they didn’t get their chance to say, “I told you the team was useless” or “I told you Keshi is a clueless coach”.

The difference between now and then was that in previous examples, Nigerians didn’t think the Eagles could win those games but they supported their country through it and were delighted when the Eagles eventually won.

Now the fans didn’t think the Eagles could win and didn’t want the Eagles to win for whatever reason possible.

I have tried to figure out why the total hatred and disconnect. Could it be because most Nigerians still prefer Samson Siasia? The immediate past coach that we all love but could not get the team to the AFCON? Siasia is even now pro-Keshi and his support for the present team and coaches is well documented. Sunday Oliseh as a guest on Supersport said Nigerians should put aside their hatred or dislike for Keshi and go behind the team because eventually it is Nigeria playing not Keshi or Amokachi.

Could it be because some of our favourite players like Obafemi Martins, Kalu Uche and Osaze Odemwingie were dropped from the team? Even at that Obafemi Martins tweeted a good luck message to the team a day after he was dropped and Osaze too in a tweet congratulated the players after the game against Ivory Coast.

Could it be because some people are bent on having a foreign coach handle the Eagles and are probably agents to these coaches and know the only way they can justify one was to have the team do badly? Are these the ones who have used sections of the media to paint the team in bad light?

I really cannot figure this out.

The shocking and unbelievable thing is that the same Nigerians who gave up on the Super Eagles because “they have not played well” actually stand with European clubs they have no ties to even in the face of bad results.
How did we get to this point in Nigerian football? Have the Eagles disappointed its fans more than Arsenal have or Liverpool or Chelsea this season? Real Madrid is having its worst season in a long time but you don’t hear such negativity coming from Nigerians who are fans of the Spanish League champions.

In any case, I say big congratulations to Stephen Keshi and the lads. I still remember speaking to him in the lobby of his hotel just after drawing Botswana in his first game in charge, a friendly.

After that talk I was sold out on his project. Win or lose at this AFCON, I am one of the few Nigerians that believe and have always believed he is on the right path and will change the Super Eagles for good.

It was a sweet feeling on Sunday night being Nigerian. Keshi and the players should not get ahead of themselves. The best of these Eagles is yet to come.






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16 comments:

  1. Very solid analysis... People will begin to believe again, it takes time. They have been disappointed so many times that we begin to expect the loss and brace ourselves to accept it by condemning the boys. .. It will change but it takes time

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  3. I like the encouraging tone of the article.
    Nevertheless I believe Nigerians have meaningful reasons to be cautiously supportive.
    How many times Nigerians had high hopes in their team and were dissapointed dearly concerning results and especially performance.
    That implies the opposite of what the author stated: Nigerians turn their back on SE not because they are ignorant or unemotional towards their country but because they can't bear another painful disappointment.

    DAgrin

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  4. DAgrin, exactly my point. Arsenal, Liverpool, Chelsea and Madrid haven't exactly wowed their fan lately

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  5. Spot on china.......I must say/admit that I was optimistic going into this game....was expecting a slim(maybe 1 nil) victory that will come against d run of play....but we BOSSED every part of the pitch...players played their heart out..covered every blade of grass like its their last..they made us proud to be a Nigerian yesterday(also making me to forget our draw against manciteh)....all we need to do now is to buy into/support keshi's philosophy....once again I must commend u on ur wonderful piece

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  6. The love Nigerians have for SE is primordial. What we see today with clubs in Europe is an outcome of years of frustration! I grew up loving the SE with all my heart, knew every player by heart, the clubs they played for and followed their career progress religiously. In the same vain, I was a supporter of Manchester United. My love for Manchester United was by no means compared to that for SE. SE was number one. But it was easier to make the switch after years of SE culture of disappointment. Just like any normal relationship, a careless individual can push the love of their life into the waiting hand of another individual who has more and better to offer!

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  7. Well said Bro. Much as I gave the team a 40% chance of winning yesterday's game, have to say Keshi's team wowed all of us with an astounding performance. The Oboabuna/Omeruo partnership reminds me of Uche Okechukwu/Okafor of back in the days. I see a team who'll be world beaters in 2-5 years time if NFF/Sports Ministry allow this continuity. ANd by the way, who says Super Eagles can't win? Any of the 4 remaining teams have an equal, YES EQUAL chance of getting hands on trophy. Great write up!

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  8. Nice!!! well written man! I'm a die hard believer in this team not from yesterday but has always been! I was in the stadium in nelspruit when we played our first match and people around where so full of negativity about the team that it really thicked me off!!! I was in Rustenburg lastnite aswell And it is a tragedy that their own did not even give them a chance! Now watch and see how many of us Nigerians are going to be trooping into the Moses Mabhida Stadium on wednesday. They did it!!! and shamefully not because we supported them but because they believed in themselves!!! And that for me; is what patriotism and professionalism is all about!

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  9. Nice one China. Super. Eagles really took the piss with people. So many years of extremely frustrating football and absolutely mediocre players with a terrible attitude. The present crop of players are just about average and slightly below average with the exception of a few but at least they make up for that with passion ,zeal and commitment. That's enough for me for now. The skilful ones with good attitudes will soon come to the fore if we keep the manager and give him some time.

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  10. hello sir, from your 2nd to last paragraph and i quote "After that talk I was sold out on his project"

    please can you tell us more about his project, is it to build a young team of home based or foreign based or what exactly is his formula?

    sorry for asking cos i would confess i broke my Samsung S2 with anger hitting it on the floor after the first match and i am still paying for the phone and promised not to support them till the end of the tournament, but after yesterday well i remembered i am still a Nigerian.

    very nice article


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  11. Kaecy, if you search this blog, i have written lots on Keshi's poject and the coach never promised Nigerians a homebased team. He just said he will give us alternative players to fall on and build a new side.
    Thats why of the 23 players in South Africa, only 6 have played the Cup of Nations before.
    Plaers like Victor Moses, Onazi, Mba, Omeruo, Oboabona, Obiora Nwankwo, Gabriel Rueben, Egwueke were brought into the team by Keshi and even when Ngerians criticised him for taking what they called an inexperienced side to the AFCON stood his ground because he knew what he was doing. When was the last time nigeria had as many as six homebased players at the AFCON? 23 years ago in Algeria. When was the last time a coach dropped three high profile players like Osaze, MArtins and KAlu Uche?
    The man knows what he is doing and it doesnt matter how our campaign ends in South Africa, i stil insist that we will not value what he has done for Nigerian football until maybe five years from now. Let us do the right thing and allow this team to blossom.
    In a nutshell, his project is to give Nigerians by 2014 a national team they can and will be proud of. If you as me, he is on his way there

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  12. I had cricised the Eagles in the past, after yesterday's performance, I shall not criticise them again even if the team fails to win the cup. The team was very business-like and showed a sense of urgency in their approach yesterday.
    Their work rate, their commitment to the game that they showed was praiseworthy.

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  13. There is actually nothing wrong with criticizing the Eagles mate. Nothing wrong with it

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  14. Nice article here. I'm one of those who have stopped supporting the Eagles. Why you ask? well, I'm an Arsenal fan so that is an indication I'm not a glory hunter. I still support Arsenal because the club has made it clear, profit before any other.

    For Nigeria, we don't know what we want and that has become tiring. We are told we are building a team and at the slightest sign of setback, we go back to the caveman drawing board. If Keshi had lost yesterday, would he still have his job? Would he be allowed to continue his work? Would he still remain in charge if he doesn't win the cup? We clearly have no direction and that has become too tiring.

    And don't let me start with age grade competitions. I actually pray we lose those games because of the shameless cheating.

    I hope we now have a plan for our football else, this would just be a false dawn, not needing any support.

    By the way, I never pray the Eagles lose, I just stopped caring about the result.

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  15. Ikwereman, good write up. Keep it up. Fans are highly critical partly because Nigeria hasn't won anything at senior level since 1994. Hence, 1994 became the yardstick which every player & coach must measure up to or else they are useless. If you don't coach like Westerhoff, you're summarily written off. If you don't bring the ball out if the back like Uche Okechukwu, you're deemed poor. If you are wearing the 10 shirt but can't execute a JJ legover, you bring nothing to the team. Nothing but negativity. It's partly deserved but mostly unfair. But Nigerans don't want to hear that so the media spoon feeds them more negativity to validate their view. That's why I say kudos to this piece for balancing out the reality of the SEs state of affairs. It's not all rosy but we look to be on the right track.

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