Before Keshi resigns

The rumours may no longer be rumours as it gets stronger every day.

We hear that head coach of Nigeria’s national team, Stephen Keshi plans to resign soon after the Africa Cup of Nations, AFCON final on Sunday.

Has Keshi come out categorically to say he will resign? No! Has he given a hint that he could? Yes, he has.

What exactly did Keshi say to start rumours that he may leave Nigeria for new employers? What caused him to make those statements? Should Keshi resign? If he does, will he be missed? There are questions everywhere hoping for answers.

What did Keshi say?

Keshi was quoted in the press as saying “After the final on Sunday, I don’t know if I am still going to be in Nigeria or not, someone else might be building the team”

Now what do these things mean? Does he really want to quit? Will he come this far and quit?

What caused Keshi to make that statement?

It is common knowledge that Nigerians (majority of them) did not like Stephen Keshi on the job. Most Nigerians preferred the immediate past coach, Samson Siasia and they disliked him because they felt he took a job that rightfully belonged to Siasia. Remember Siasia was sacked after he failed to qualify Nigeria for the AFCON 2012.

Right from his first day on the job he got criticisms from Nigerians and was called names from Clueless, tactically and technically inept and most of all he was called a business man with critics insinuating that his coaching was about business where he calls up players in his books in a bid to get them better clubs thereby putting personal interests before the job.

I remember when he started preparing for his first competitive game away to Rwanda he was criticized for starting the camp with a team of home based players in camp.

When it got to the match proper and six home based players started he was criticized for not using a fully home based team for the game.

Keshi was criticized for not using the likes of Osaze Odemwingie, Mikel Obi and Kalu Uche in the qualifying games for the AFCON.

When Mikel Obi was finally invited and made the team, he was criticized for taking Mikel to the AFCON.

Very recently the coach was criticized for inviting Bright Dike to the national team for the Faro, Portugal camp and then criticized by the same people for dropping Dike from the AFCON bound team.

He was criticized for dropping Osaze Odemwingie and Obafemi Martins and for not even inviting Kalu Uche and Taiye Taiwo.

He was criticized for taking six home based players to the AFCON and was also criticized for taking a team with little AFCON experience (Only six had played in the AFCON before)

That has been Keshi’s lot since he became coach of the team.

But just like they say, the fans and media can criticize you all they want; it was what your employers think that matters.

Reports had it that the sports minister, Bolaji Abdulahi and big wigs at the Nigeria Football Federation, NFF never trusted the abilities of the coach and that was why after Nigeria’s 1-1 draw against Burkina Faso in the AFCON word got out that there was a heated debate between the coach and his employers when he threatened to walk away from the team before their next game.

By the time the Eagles drew against Zambia in the 2nd game, the sports minister allegedly instructed the NFF to make contacts with European coaches who will take over the job as soon as the Super Eagles were knocked out of the AFCON.

Even though the sports minister, Bolaji Abdulahi later denied any such moves were made, was it any surprise that at every turn Keshi criticized poor quality European coaches in Africa?

In fact, I have it on go0d authority that the NFF through an agent actually made contact with two Dutch coaches with the intention of having one of them take over from Keshi as soon as the Eagles were knocked out which they believed would be at the end of the group games.

Keshi got to know about it and was not too happy but he stayed focused and his team eventually qualified for the quarter finals and the negativity increased when it was seen that Nigeria would play pre-tournament favourites, Ivory Coast.

The disbelief got to its peak when the NFF allegedly booked the Eagles’ return ticket flights for Monday, the day after the quarter final encounter against the Ivorians because they were so sure the Eagles would lose. Keshi also got to know this and that was the proverbial straw that broke the Camel’s back.

Should Keshi resign?

My thought is that he should do what he thinks is best for him. Just like he said, he is a professional and will act as such. Win or lose Sunday’s final, Stephen Keshi has proved a point- that he is much better than people thought he was.

But if he wins Sunday’s final he would have his name firmly etched in the Nigerian football hall of fame, something no amount of money can buy.

Should Keshi resign? That is his decision. Just like he said, you cannot force people to like you.

If the rumours about him being offered an $80,000 (about thirteen million naira) per month deal by the Ivoriens then maybe he could leave for the money and the honour. Right now he earns five million naira per month in Nigeria.

After all in Ivory Coast he would be that foreign coach Nigerians have always wanted for their national team.

Then he could qualify them for the World Cup while the Eagles may not qualify and go on to do big things for them.

Do I want Keshi to resign? Certainly not because it doesn’t make sense for me to come this far and lose everything? Why come this far and have to start afresh because a new coach will claim he is rebuilding and pull down whatever structure Keshi put in place.

Before Keshi resigns

Before Keshi resigns, if he really wants to let him ask himself some pertinent questions that may determine where his decision will tilt.

He is on the verge of making history. Only two men have won the AFCON for Nigeria before- Otto Gloria in 1980 and Clemens Westahof in 1994.

Then again, only one man has won the AFCON as player and coach and that is Mahmoud El Gohary who won as a player for Egypt in 1959 and as coach in 1998. If Keshi wins on Sunday, he will be the 2nd man to do that and the only man alive to have done that since Gohary has since passed on.

Then considering that El Gohary did not captain Egypt in 1959, Keshi will be the first man to win the AFCON as captain and coach.

Surely after doing this you do not just want to walk away, do you?

Besides, Nigerians know how the country celebrates wins like this. In 1980 it was a Peugeot 504 saloon car each and a house at FESTAC, a residential area in Lagos. The players each got a national award, M.O.N (Member of the Order of the Niger).

In 1994 when the team won the Cup, they all also got M.O.N. awards, were promised a house each in Abuja, the Federal Capital too and not to talk about the individual awards and monies they got from well wishers.

Keshi should know that Nigerians have waited nineteen years for this and there is no telling what he will get if he wins this.

On the issue of the NFF and the Sports Minister plotting his downfall, Keshi needs to read the history books before running away.

There’s a famous story about the day, Alex Akinyele, one time Sports Minister in Nigeria planned to sack Clemens Westahof in the 90s and how it eventually turned out.

It was not hidden then that what kept Westahof for five years was his closeness to the vice president, Augustus Aikhomu.

Legend has it that the sports minister grabbed some files to ASO Rock (Nigeria’s seat of Power) to convince the vice-president that Clemens Westahof must be sacked.

He got there and was told to wait because the vice-president was with an important visitor.

After waiting a few hours, he got up as the vice president was seeing off his important visitor that turned out to be Westahof the same person the minister wanted to sack.

If Keshi wins the Cup, the team will surely be hosted by the president. There is no way he wouldn’t get five minutes to chat with the president where he can just ask for an appointment which the president will surely grant him. Then he can go all out and expose all the inadequacies of the NFF and sports ministry to the one who calls the shots in Nigeria.

Keshi has his chance to silence his NFF "enemies" next week when he meets with the president. All he has to do is win the AFCON trophy on Sunday.

Before Keshi resigns let him think about all this. If he gives it a careful thought and still goes ahead to resign we will only just wish him the best wherever he goes but Nigerians will never forget the fact that he brought hope to our hopeless football watching populace.

Before Keshi resigns, let him sit down and think.

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  1. That's thoughtful of you China,there's no gain runnuing away from those who oppose you at the edge of your victory. they are the one to run away from you because you have lived above their estimation. surely a man at the height of his career must face will not become a man in a larger soceity such as nigeria if you are not criticized.such should make you stay strong to your calling and values because those who oppose you would again rally round you after you have have got to prove them wrong. Do you think you would escape criticism wherever you are going? the choice is yours any-which-way!!!


  2. The Big Boss should not resign,he should stay and am sure a World cup qualification spot will be achieved.I would like to see Keshi in Brazil especially after being denied his chance to appear in Germany after doing the donkey work for Togo.

  3. China the prophet! T B Joshua the fraud needs to do internship under you. Nice article! Well articulated and straight to the point. The goons in the glass house have always been the bane of our soccer development. Time to occupy their lives and demand a change is around the corner......I smell positive change in the air