Afcons: Keshi’s Moment Of Truth




Listener staff report

Nigerian Super Eagle Coach Steve Keshi named his final 23 man squad for the African Cup of Nations slated to be held in South Africa this month. Steve Keshi reports say, always wanted the Eagles coaching position and he finally landed the high profile job last year after another countryman Sampson Siasia failed to qualify the talented Super Eagles for the last edition of afcons.

For this year’s edition, Nigeria lobbied the Confederation of African Football [CAF] to give them a soft opponent for the qualifying round, and true to expectations they got the Liberia Lone Stars, whose glory has faded since George Weah and company left the scene. The Eagles must now prove they have what it takes with Keshi at the helm.

The Nigerian Super Eagles go to South Africa having qualified against their West African counterparts on an 8-3 aggregate, drawing 2-2 in Monrovia and subsequently spanking the Lone Stars 6-1 in Calabar a forth night ago. “The victory must have given the ‘big boss’ and his team a jolt of confidence but look again, and you will see that the Eagles’ qualification was nothing compared to Ivory Coast, who qualified against the fancied Lions of Senegal.

They were playing against a miserable Liberian team that paraded players not in the mode of victor Moses and John Obi; the Eagles and Keshi moment of truth is coming when they go to South Africa,” says a Nigerian football pundit. True to that contention, the Eagles failed to beat Cape Verde recently drawing 1-1 away.

Cape Verde also will be traveling to the biggest football gala. Steve Keshi though, has not won away since taking over the gifted Eagles in both competitive and friendly matches. With days away from the tournament, he has come under criticisms that the Eagles are not in form, from Nigerian football analysts.

“I did not see any exciting moment throughout the game [Nigeria vs. Cape Verde] and that tells a bad story…’” said a former Super Eagles coach, “I hope the technical crew will work on the team and make them improve,’’   said Adebayo Onigbinde according to the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN). Even ominous will be the absence of Westbromwich hot striker Peter Odemwengie who scored 29 goals in 75 appearances since 2010 in the prestigious English league.

He is one notable player who will be missing from the Eagles squad and Keshi is remarked to have said he will not missed him. Peter Odemwengie and Steve Keshi have had a love hate relationship since the ‘big boss’ was appointed.

At the upcoming colorful football fiesta on the continent in South Africa, Keshi will go against the best coaches and teams on the continent, and his moment of truth should come especially against Zambia the current African champs coached by Frenchman Herve Renard, who was recently crowned the best coach on the continent given the wonders he has performed with the Chipolopolo. No doubt the Nigerian squad is star studded, but can they lift the trophy? Nigeria is placed in group C alongside Zambia, Ethiopia and Burkina Faso.

NIGERIA’S afcons squad:

Goalkeepers: Vincent Enyeama -Maccabi Tel Aviv, Israel; Austin Ejide Hapoel Be’er Sheba, Israel; Chigozie Agbim – Enugu Rangers, Nigeria;

Defenders: Elderson Echiejile – SC Braga, Portugal; Juwon Oshaniwa Ashdod FC, Israel; Joseph Yobo – Fenerbahce, Turkey;  Efe Ambrose – Celtic FC, Scotland; Azubuike Egwuekwe – Warri Wolves, Nigeria; Kenneth Omeruo ADO Den Haag, Netherlands; Godfrey Oboabona – Sunshine Stars, Nigeria;

Midfielders: John Mikel Obi – Chelsea FC, England; Nosa Igiebor – Real Betis, Spain;  Ogenyi  Onazi – SS Lazio, Italy;  Obiora  Nwankwo – Calcio  Padova, Italy; Fegor Ogude  – Valerenga FC, Norway;  Gabriel Reuben – Kano Pillars, Nigeria;

Forwards: Ahmed Musa – CSKA Moscow; Russia, Emmanuel Emenike Spartak Moscow, Russia; Victor Moses Chelsea FC, England;  Sunday Mba Enugu Rangers, Nigeria; Ikechukwu Uche – Villarreal FC, Spain; Brown Ideye Dynamo Kyiv, Ukraine; Ejike Uzoenyi – Enugu Rangers, Nigeria.

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