Making Hay While Sun Shines
His moves looks like someone who wants to succeed. The little touch on the team is bringing the best out of the players. The seriousness of Steven Okechukwu Keshi, the Eagles handler, no doubt stems from the proposed friendly with the Palancas Negras of Angola in Nigeria on January 11 and the battle between the Super Eagles and the Lone Star at the Antoinette Taubman Stadium three days later in Monrovia.
The players have also not been found wanting, playing to instructions ahead of the friendlies. Having uprooted them from the local league, Keshi thought it wise to take them on the rudiments of international football. He thereafter took them on shooting, dribbling skills, headings and under pressure reaction. By the time Keshi was done, all the players in camp seemed to have gained equal level of confidence, making it difficult for the coaching crew to decide on those that will feature in the games against Angola and Liberia . However, from Azubuike Egwueke, who captained the team against Lobi Stars to Papa Idris and the four alert goalkeepers, it has been great expectations on what Angola and Liberia will offer.
The players adapted so fast after Keshi repeatedly told them to go ahead and prove that they have the capacity to play big games and help him reduce the number of foreign based players that will be invited, otherwise, there will be no sentiments. Keshi seems to be dancing to the tune of the Nigeria Football Federation, NFF, which has repeatedly called for a rebuild of the team from the grassroots. It was in this light that the NFF gave thumps up to Keshi for the seriousness he has injected into the team’s camp since resuming barely two months ago.
General Secretary of the NFF, Barrister Musa Amadu spoke the mind of the NFF, after watching the home based Eagles thrash Nigeria Premier League, NPL side, Lobi Stars of Makurdi 3-1 in a training match at the main bowl of the National Stadium, Abuja. “One can see a seriousness that is commendable and there is also good fighting spirit in there. I think the new management of the team deserves applause for the way they have gone about their job and letting the players know that commitment is key”.
Keshi executed two international friendlies in November with largely foreign-based players. The first was the barren draw with Botswana in Benin City and a 2-0 defeat of Zambia in Kaduna. The proposed game against Angola and Liberia is part of the build-up for the 2013 African Cup of Nations qualifier against Rwanda in Kigali at the end of next month.