With only four months to the commencement of the 2014 World Cup in Brazil, it is rather curious that the Nigeria Football Federation (NFF) is breathing down the neck of Super Eagles coach, Stephen Keshi, to accept the appointment of a foreign technical assistant for the team. The NFF is presumably working on the theory that Keshi needs a foreign technical assistant to enable the team advance beyond our past performances at the World Cup.
The NFF had reportedly pleaded with Keshi to accept the engagement of an assistant, who would add value to his technical crew ahead of Brazil 2014 World Cup. It based its decision on the fact that the Nigerian bench needs help for the team to surpass our former outings in the previous tournaments. But last Wednesday, the NFF, through its Technical Commit-tee, denied ever moving for a foreign technical assistant for the Super Eagles. The committee stated that it did not at any time contemplate, approve or recommend the appointment of any foreign technical staff to help the Super Eagles coach.
It also explained that it has given, and will continue to give Keshi and the team its unflinching support to do Nigeria proud at the 20th FIFA World Cup finals in June Despite NFF’s denial, it is necessary to state that we see no need for the employment of a foreign technical assistant at a time that the coach of the national team has not requested for one. Again, it has not been said at any time that Coach Stephen Keshi is technically deficient. If a technical assistant is needed for the national team at all, the view that such an assistant must be foreign is galling. Keshi, in the heat of the controversy over the need for a technical assistant, had argued that instead of engaging a foreign technical assistant at this time, his former technical assistant and ex-international, Sylvanus Okpala, who was removed from office by NF off-cials, should be recalled to assist him. This is a good enough proposition. Okpala, according to many stake-holders in the round leather game, is a sound technical man and a versatile reader of matches. His services will still be needed by the team in preparation for the football tournament.
The consideration of a foreign technical adviser for the Super Eagles at this time is untidy, unnecessary and ill-advised. Engaging such an official now, will surely hedge the national coach in and upset the equilibrium in the team. Having a foreign technical adviser would have made more sense at the qualification level. Bringing in on now that Keshi and crew have qualified the team to the mundial is
unfair to the Super Eagles coaching crew. Rather than enhancing the performance of the team at Brazil, it may even jeopardise it. Apart from demonstrating our lack of faith in our coaching crew, it further reinforces the racist notion of black man’s inferiority. Do we need a foreigner to be able to stand on our feet at the World Cup? We reject such negative stereotyping of the past. Having a new technical assistant will not do the magic as being insinuated in some quarters. Such appointments did not achieve the desired goal in our previous World Cup outings. We do not think that it will work now. Let Keshi and his team go there and do their best. Whatever is the outcome will add to their experience and the growth of Nigerian football. Let our football authorities spare the Super Eagles coaching crew this unwarranted distraction at this stage that it ought to be planning for friendly matches and other logistics to ensure a successful outing for the team in Brazil.
Keshi and crew have, with their re-cent successes in the African Nations Cup and the CHAN, proved beyond doubts that they can do the job. Introducing a foreign technical assistant now will be injurious and unpatriotic. The NFF should not be seen to be working at cross-purposes with Keshi and his assistants. Rather, they should work as a team. Therefore, let NFF respect Keshi’s view on this matter and consider his proposal on Okpala. We say this considering the fact that as a coach, Keshi should know exactly what he needs to succeed in his assignment. The bickering on this matter is
inexpedient to our quest for glory in Brazil.