EX-international, Victor Ikpeba has charged the Amaju Pinnick-led Nigeria Football Federation to revisit Super Eagles outing in the World Cup in Brazil especially the players boycott of training for a day and the subsequent brouhaha over money that rubbed mud on the image of the country.
After the infamous protest over money, the Eagles were beaten 2 – 0 by France in the second round of the World Cup in a match many believed the Eagles would not have lost if not for the needless distractions before the match.
“It’s important we revisit what happened in Brazil if we ever think of doing well in subsequent World Cups. That problem has always been around and the earlier we stop it now the better before we go again to wash our dirty linen in public”, Ikpeba charged moments after the election of new officers in Warri to run the Nigeria game.
Ikpeba was asked about the chances of the Super Eagles in the on-going Nations Cup qualifiers and he said that the Eagles may still qualify but wondered if Keshi has abandoned the ship or was still savouring the success of the Nations Cup he won in South Africa.
“With the way he(Keshi) is going, he needs to ask himself basic questions. These questions are; Are you satisfied with your performance with the Eagles? Do you want to do well? Or, are you content with the Nations Cup you won? Are you satisfied with the selections you make? Another one is how long are you going to rebuild the team?
The 1997 African footballer of the Year winner also had harsh words for Keshi for ignoring Ike Uche for the World Cup in Brazil and even in the qualifiers for Morocco 2015.
“I don’t know what the problem is between him and Ike Uche. But whatever it is, the national interest soverides personal interest. The annoying aspect is that you do not have a striker as good as him.
We all saw the goals he scored in Spain. And still leaving him out and to be inviting some rookie characters is a bit going too far. What makes good managers is their ability to manage such ‘bad’ but talented players.
They all abound in many clubs and countries. They are match winners any day. Without disparaging anybody, how did we behave when we were playing? We were not better behaved than these players. Coaches and Managers tolerated us and brought out the best in us. We need our best players to be invited to the national team.”
As a member of the Technical Committee of the former NFF, Ikpeba was asked why they didn’t scrutinize Keshi’s list or advise him on certain players?.
“Keshi does not like criticisms. He fires back at anyone who holds a contrary opinion to his. He frightened many and instead of telling him the truth they started praising him. He failed to realize that criticism is part of football. Only few ex-internationals could air their opinions, not minding whose Ox is gored. Somebody like Sunday Oliseh.
“To your question, at the Technical Committee level we knew that Keshi needed help. But many Nigerians were shouting in his favor . He went to war with NFF and the Technical Committee. Coaching goes beyond winning one tournament and going to sit in America, waiting for when next you have a match or a competition.
There are a lot of things going on in that Super Eagles. Ike Uche is not invited, Iheanacho is too young. Football belongs to the young ones. He should allow Iheanacho. Give him a chance. That lad has a Lion’s heart. We need young and talented players. During the transfer season, how many of our players got lucrative offers? Is the future bright for us? We need a coach who will give young players the chance to play.
Nigeria lost 3 – 2 to Congo in Calabar before pulling a listless goalless draw with Bafana Bafana of South Africa in Cape Town. Currently, Eagles are third on the table with a single point out of a possible six. Are we waving goodbye to Morocco 2015 Nations Cup?
“No, no no. That does not mean we won’t qualify. But we need a coach who can encourage the players and take responsibility. Your team cannot win all the time. Remember, for a team to win another have to lose. I’m not saying that we must win all matches.
But when you lose matches that you ought to winj then you must ask certain questions. And if your wrong decisions were responsible you must admit you made wrong decisions rather than blaming players. Why is Keshi always blaming his players when he loses? He takes all the credit when he wins but if he loses the players are to blame. Is that how a good coach should behave? Ikpeba said.
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