Super Eagles diary 1: Pinnick upholds belief in Eagles

I resume my Super Eagles diary as the national team prepares for that crunch qualifying game against Sudan in Abuja on Wednesday.

How our standards have fallen as crunch games are no longer against Ivory Coast, Cameroon or Ghana but now against Sudan, but isn’t that the way life deals with people?

From Jalingo with love

After doing the 15 hour road trip with Dolphins from Port Harcourt to Jalingo in Taraba State on Friday, I alighted from the club bus five hours into the journey back to Port Harcourt at Aliade on Monday to make my way to Abuja for the Super Eagles game.

At 5.30pm I was in Abuja and really wanted to head to a hotel to catch a rest but a call to Andrew Randa of Supersport made me change course and head to the stadium.

I had already missed the sports minister, Tammy Danagogo and NFF president, Amaju Pinnick so maybe I could just talk to journalists around if I do not catch up with the Eagles but I did.

I caught them as they rounded up their training and I sighted Aaron Samuel who plays in the Chinese league and used to be at Dolphins and Shooting Stars.

I had only one question for Aaron and it was simple- “You play in the Chinese league. Nigerians do not think you deserve to be in the Super Eagles… What do you think?”

Aaron simply said he deserves to be in the Eagles.

“The fact that I play in China does not mean I do not deserve to play in the Eagles. Everyone knows why he is playing in whatever club he plays in. There is also a reason I am in my Chinese club. The fact that I play in China does not mean I do not deserve to be in the national team,” Samuel said.

Very straightforward, wasn’t it?

2nd choice keeper, Austin Ejide wanted Nigerians to rally round the team saying it was an opportunity to be at the AFCON as champions and urged Nigerians to support them rather than criticize them.

Keshi still optimistic

Stephen Keshi, looking humbled, yet being brash in fits and starts said he wanted to win against Sudan on Wednesday saying that is the most important thing for him and the team.

He urged fans to come out and support the team and not boo them.

“They have to be patient with the players because booing them will not be good for the team.”

He admitted that he too was disappointed that the Eagles did not win but shockingly said the criticism was more of a propaganda to kill the spirit of the team.

“This is our nation. We do not have any other one so you cannot sell your country. The criticism is not about the game but more of a propaganda to kill a team that we are trying to put together because of one thing or the other, self-interest.

“If you do not want to support us keep quiet and stay at home. It’s a shame that I will be the one saying it, but I have to because it is my country. If you want to go around sabotaging the team not to succeed then we kill it ourselves.

“You too won’t be there. We will all watch it on TV.”

But what does Keshi think about reports that Nigerians want him sacked or his contract not renewed?

“It won’t be a new thing. The job of a coach is hire and fire. I’ve coached in other places and never been fired. I have been here before. We qualified for the World Cup with Shaibu in 2002 and also won the bronze at the AFCON and we were asked to leave. It’s not about the game, it’s about personal stuff and if tomorrow they say I should leave, I will go. Two or three countries are waiting. Nigeria is not the last place to play football and it is not the last place I will coach,” Keshi said.

But what if Nigeria does not qualify for the AFCON?

“I will be sad if we do not qualify for the AFCON and I will also be disappointed. I want to go to the AFCON. It’s my country and my job. I want to win the Cup again for Nigeria. It’s an ambition for me. I do not want to see the AFCON without Nigeria, but like they say, man proposes, God disposes.”

At the end of the session, a new Keshi, looked at the hoard of journos and asked, “now that I have answered the questions, can I go?” like he was begging permission from them and when they chorused that he can go, he stepped out.

He actually asked twice if he can go… Is this a new Keshi humbled by two defeats to Congo and Sudan?

Spat with Mikel again

Just as Keshi was stepping out there was a ruckus right there on the pitch as an Abuja based radio sports show host was visibly angry that Mikel Obi just snubbed him but was more angry that Kenneth Omeruo did same.

My personal opinion was that you cannot force a player to talk to you. I personally have never sought an interview with Mikel Obi because of what they say is his attitude to the Nigerian press so I wonder why someone was getting angry over an attitude we all know about…. Ok, he was angrier that Omeruo did the same thing…

The drama of Gwarimpa

It was time to shut down for the day and my good friend, Andrew Randa drove down from Minna and convinced me to stay at the same hotel as he somewhere at Gwarimpa.

The thing was he didn’t know his way around and I didn’t too.

But why would you drive all the way to another city if your car then becomes useless?

We sought directions from Arafat Aliu and while he spoke, I looked at Randa… he was as clueless as David Moyes trying to get a winning formula over MK Dons so I knew we were doomed.

We tried to reach Kisulola who should have been our guide but she couldn’t be reached.

Needless to say, Randa, myself, Azubuike Fynecountry and a stop gap guide we picked up outside the stadium drove around Abuja for 90 minutes trying to find Gwarimpa.

Worse still, when we got to Kado estate, which was just a touching distance to Gwarimpa, we still could not navigate our way in.

We were the shame of the nation… we still are.

Eventually we found it after making fools of ourselves and even mistakenly driving against traffic at one point.

Moral of the story: Don’t take a ride in Andy Randa’s car….

Tomorrow is another day… I hope it will be good.

Pictures by @50degreeswest

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  1. Where on this article does it mention Pinnick?. Great piece tho

  2. Hehehe... I missed out the Pinnick