Keshi’s difficult CHAN preparations

Godfrey Oboabona used to be part of the CHAN team

As Nigeria’s home based Super Eagles team, continue their preparations for the African Nations Championship, CHAN, things may not be as rosy as Stephen Keshi, coach of the side would want it.

Thirty players reported to camp on Monday to start sweating it out, but one thing the gaffer knows is that he does not have a winning team yet.

In fact he may not get the winning team.

80% gone

The Super Eagles coaches said during the week that more than 80% of the home based Super Eagles that started the journey have left and it would have to be a fresh start for the team.

This statement came under severe criticism from pundits, fans and critics alike as they felt Stephen Keshi had no right to say that or even complain about a few players leaving the team.

The African Nations Championship, CHAN is for only football based in the home league of the country and the moment a player signs a deal with a foreign club, he becomes ineligible to play.

Amongst the first set of home based players Stephen Keshi started with when he became coach of the Eagles, how many have really left?

Did Keshi lie when he said 80% had left?

The likes of Chibuzor Okonkwo, Juwon Oshaniwa, Papa Idris, Godfrey Oboabona, Gabriel Rueben, Henry Uche, Uche Kalu, Tony Okpotu and Izu Azuka were all founding members of the team but are no longer based in Nigeria so are ineligible to play the CHAN.

So maybe Keshi was right when he said he had lost more than half of the team.

But Keshi also in that interview said he was happy with his players, especially those who moved to Europe as they are making progress in their football careers.

What does Keshi do now?

As long as we do not knock our heads on the wall and start crying, Keshi will continue to prepare for the Championship.

Thirty players are in camp who seem the best from the Nigerian league and they must know that Nigerians are a “blood thirsty” group who will demand the trophy no matter the circumstances.

The Likes of Benjamin Francis and Solomon Kwambe seem adequate cover for Juwon Oshaniwa and Chibuzor Okonkwo. There is also Bright Esieme who did well in right back for Enyimba last season.

Umar Zango may just be about enough to fill the void left by Godfrey Oboabona.

Ogheneharo Etebu may prove to be adequate replacement for Uche Kalu and of course with players like Azubuike Egwuekwe, Chigozie Agbim and Sunday Mba still around, and the return of Ejike Uzoenyi who had a failed stint in France, Nigeria’s home based Eagles may just pull off a shock in South Africa.

Then there’s the mercurial Christian Pyagbara who is at Sharks, Kano Pillars Charismatic play maker, Rabiu Ali as well as the Golden Eaglets’ trio of Dele Alampasu, Kelechi Iheanacho and Taiwo Awoniyi.

However, with these talents at their disposal, it remains to be seen if the coaches will have enough time to turn what they have into a winning side.

The folly of the CHAN

But despite the optimism, Keshi still has his troubles ahead of the Championship that kicks off on January 10, 2014.

Players like Azubuike Egwuekwe, Sunday Mba and Chigozie Agbim may be Europe bound in January.

That automatically rules them out of the tournament.

The rumour mills say Kelechi Iheancho and Dele Alampasu may be signing up with European clubs in January too and that rules them out.

With the European transfer window opening in January, a quarter of the thirty players Keshi has in camp may be ineligible by January 10 when the tournament begins, so what actually is the point of CHAN?

Despite all these, Nigerians expect Keshi to win the tournament in South Africa.

Keshi should be careful not to drop any players from his list of thirty until the tournament proper starts.

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  1. I think that there should also be room to accomodate players who aren't opportuned to belong to any known domestic club. The truth is dat lots of talents abound in this Nation. Those 30 might not be the best afterall

  2. But Obum, the national team selectors anywhere where in the World will pick mostly players in top clubs. How often do you see Championship or League One players in England national team? How often do you see Serie B players in Italy's national team?