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Next Eagles Coach Must Be Better Than Keshi!

Next Eagles Coach Must Be Better Than Keshi!

Following the failure of the Super Eagles to qualify for AFCON 2015, the call for Stephen Keshi’s removal as Manager of the team has been strident.

The social media is saturated with calls for his voluntary ‘resignation’ or sack.  In this cacophony of opinions, the public forgets that even though his contract with the team expired with the end of the World Cup in July 2014, it has not been renewed. So, there is nothing to resign from, or any imminent sack to be executed!The informal directive from the Presidency that Keshi should be re-instated has not been vacated or formalized, so no one has been able to do anything about the vacant position of coach of the Super Eagles.


Since Nigeria’s ouster from the Nations Cup, the same Presidency has kept silent, not making any statement on the matter, and distancing itself from the disaster.

In order to save face, and regain the lost sympathy of the government, the NFF board has publicly assumed full responsibility for the failure, dampening the political consequences of the seeming bungling of the matter by the Presidency.


All of this puts Stephen Keshi in a tight corner from which he must wriggle out, one way or another, for good or for bad.

He will not resign because he now cannot. To start with he does not even have a subsisting contract. So, resign from what?

More significantly, no public officer ever resigns from any office in Nigeria for any reason, so why should Stephen Keshi be the first to do so now?

Of course, he can choose to step aside if he receives a signal to do so from the same source that informally reinstated him. But that is unlikely to happen because the Presidency has cleverly been reticent on this matter, silent about the national calamity, and allowing their man to absorb the full heat of his own failure.

The NFF that should be at the head of all this is incapacitated by the fear of acting against the script of the Presidency.  So, they shield the Presidency from any blame and publicly accept all responsibility for Nigeria’s failure, something that everyone knows was more cosmetic and political than real!

So, what now happens to Keshi? It appears a way has now been found for him around the logjam.

A few days ago, the Sports Ministry finally stirred from its long hibernation. The Director-General of the ministry, in a rare media report, announced that the responsibility for the hiring or firing of the national team coach is the exclusive responsibility of the Nigeria Football Federation.

Everyone knew immediately what that meant – although it was the voice of the sports ministry, the words were the Presidency’s, a signal that the coast is now clear for a dignified exit for one of Nigeria’s greatest football heroes.

The NFF immediately announces that it will fund a refresher course for Keshi in Europe, a phantom programme designed by the West to permanently put down, exploit and humiliate Third World coaches. Who has ever heard of a refresher course for Jose Mourinho, Pep Guardola, Luis Van Gaal, Arsene Wenger, and so on? At the highest level of football coaching, refresher courses do not exist. It is the intellect of the coach that counts.

So, Keshi has been found a soft landing. The coast is also now clear for the original script of the new NFF leadership to play out.

The NFF will not hire another Nigerian to handle the Super Eagles. There is no coach, before the coming of Keshi, that can be justifiably offered that exalted position now. None of them would deserve it, as they would lack the credentials, the experience and the combined achievements of Stephen Keshi.

From Samson Siasia and Stephen Keshi, two former international players that played at the highest levels of football and have handled the senior national team, Nigeria has engaged a new generation of younger indigenous coaches from which it cannot go back anymore.

Unfortunately, after Keshi, also, the pool of qualified Nigerian coaches that can handle the Super Eagles, now a globally acknowledged footballing brand is very small.  Beyond Siasia and Amokachi (both have had stints and may not be considered as heads again) I see only Sunday Oliseh as a respected but unlikely option.

He is very well respected as a football analyst, with excellent paper qualifications but still lacking the depth in coaching experience and achievements, that can justify why Nigeria should give him the opportunity to do in the Eagles what Pep Guardola did in Barcelona FC with massive effect on how the Spanish national team started to play their brand of football. Which refresher course would teach the Tiki Taka philosophy and style?  So, aside from Oliseh who would not be even be considered by the NFF, the pool is dry for now.

It was deliberate when the NFF flew the kite of the idea of a foreign coach a few weeks ago, before their elections ran into more stormy weather that is still to subside. Nigerians are bracing up for who would be hired that would not create an uproar of contention, after all, after Clemens Westerhof, whose records have now been matched and probably surpassed by Keshi, which other foreign coach has done anything meaningful with Nigerian football and the Super Eagles?

Whatever happens in the days, weeks and months to come, it is clear that the period ahead in the history of the Super Eagles will be marked with more intrigues, contentions and controversies.

The challenge for the NFF would be how to prove to Nigerians that this would not be another rigmarole, a return to the days of senseless squander mania and financial brigandage, where journeymen coaches came to Nigeria with bogus credentials, did very little, fleeced the country, corrupted the officials that hired them, and departed with all their accumulated wealth after failing to do what they were hired to do in the first place.

That’s the issue here – what will the foreign coach be given as his mandate? What would he have to accomplish to justify the astronomical sums of money he would, of course, demand?
Would it be the usual safe bets – a semi-final target at the Nations Cup and the second round at the World Cup, both of which Stephen Keshi, a local, has achieved? Or, would it be something new and more challenging?

I once believed that with the entry of Keshi, Nigeria would never again consider going the old failed route of foreign coaches.

So, for me, for any foreign coach that will be hired, there must be minimum irreducible requirements: his credentials must surpass anything Keshi presented; his playing and coaching experiences must surpass anything Keshi amassed; and, finally, his mandate must also surpass Keshi’s achievements to date.

Keshi has become the barometer to gauge the coaches that must handle the national team of Nigeria into the future!

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  • Saint Palmer 7 years ago

    Well..if your article is anything to go by then Keshi will remain the Eagle Coach,(1) No coach anywhere in Nigeria thats better than KESHI,if there is any let Him come out, (2) There are loads of quality and competent foreign coaches available but none of them will come and coach in Nigeria only the mediocre and average one,s will run after the Eagle,s Job and not because they are passionate or anything it’s because it’s lucrative, so unless you wanna replace a MOU with a AVB then KESHI will remains..

  • kevwemykl 7 years ago

    Nonsense write up. I didn’t even bother reading everything after u said Keshi surpassed Westerhof’s record. It shows how shallow your knowledge of football is.

    • Olumide Adeniyi 7 years ago

      I really disagree with you on that. What is the basis of your comparison. How many years did Westerhoff stay and how many years did keshi stay. How many Nations cup did Westerhoff compete in as head coach compared to Keshi’s. Finally, how many trophies did westerhoff win apart from the ’94 nations cup. Check your records before you come up with scathing criticism’s.

  • tony oshea 7 years ago

    I agree entirely with Mathematical 7.Any foreign coach for the S/E must pocess the following qualifications:Have surpassed the semi-final of the W/Cup.Must have won the ANC trophy or its equivalent ,which is either the UEFA,or European nations cup.Must have played at the Conferderations cup.All these qualifications must be combined before majority of Nigerians can accept that coach.
    My opinion is that the new NFF president is rude and disrespectful to keshi.Now the presidency instructed him to re-instate Keshi before the last two matches and he reneged.Uptill now he has failed to give Keshi a new contract,which is also a disrespect to the presidency.I will recommend that NASS should add to the NFF statute ,that only ex-footballers and coaches can vie for the office of NFF presidency.

  • The article shows that this person is intelligent. Unfortunately a nation like Nigeria where mediocre are celebrated will never do the proper thing. The proper thing now is to give the super eagles job to Sunday Oliseh. Let him bring in his wealth of knowledge of the game to restore our football. We do not need coaches that are just using ideas, rather sound knowledge of modern day football is essential. I wonder if Oliseh would even be available for the job. He now consult for FIFA. It is pathetic, a nation as ours with mediocre, babies, weaklings touts at the helm of affairs. Can anything good come out of this Nazareth called Nigeria?

  • raymond ezeala 7 years ago

    If playing 11 matches at a stretch and winning just 1 is not enough reason to question the coaching ability of a person then Super Eagles should be ready to continue going down.

  • I am with @saint Palmer. segun ODEGBAMI has tacitly told us that KESHI should continue with his job as there is no coach better than him in NIGERIA and there is no coach outside NIGERIA that is better than KESHI that will agree to come to nigeria as they are all engaged for now on club or national level. the truth of the matter is that there is no coach on earth that will succeed working in the type of environment and with the type of people KESHI worked with that will ever succeed. mourinho in real Madrid is an example. he flee to CHELSEA. let KESHI work in a peaceful environment and with people who are not greedy and has the interest of the nation and football and see if he will not succeed. the last NFF under MAIGARI but under the tight control of CHRIS Green and Paul bassey are to blame for all that has happened to NIGERIAN football. the president is only repairing things. left for the government alone super eagle would have been banned. so eagles not qualifying for AFCON is what the govt really want. it will afford the govt to reorganize eagles. KESHI is part of the plan and so he must be given a contract. for now KESHI is still the best for NIGERIA. oliseh? no experience coaching a club yet not to talk of a national team. he is even in the bad book of NFF. so KESHI remains whether you like it or not.

  • Nzekwe Asugha 7 years ago

    Segun is my hero, but i disagree with him on Keshi. Keshi has never had a consistent run of winning games with the Super Eagles. Rather one could safely say he was lucky to have won the Afcon. There is no comparison with Westerhof at all. Westerhof played a brand of attacking football that was unmatched in Africa during his days. He was never biased in his selection like Keshi. To me, Siasia is a better attacking football coach than Keshi. Keshi is enmeshed in local politics that he has already burnt his fingers with Nigerian fans. Let him go and try other Nations, Super Eagles is not his fathers property. He is using blackmail to remain in his post and fans are not happy with that at all.

  • doluv 7 years ago

    keshi na coach?