Posted by News Express | 26 August 2013 | 4,192 times
Super Eagles head coach Stephen Keshi has bowed to the directive of the Nigeria Football Federation (NFF), which last Wednesday, August 23, put a knife through his programme for the crucial World Cup qualifying match against the Flames of Malawi.
Keshi had on August 22 named a 42-string squad, with 24 players from the domestic league whom he requested to report to the team’s Abuja camp on August 24. However, claiming lack of funds, the NFF ordered him to cut his squad to the 23 he needs for the game.
Keshi has now complied and drawn up a new list of players to converge on Calabar on September 2 – only five days ahead of the match billed for September 7.
“What do you want me to say? KickOffNigeria.com quoted Keshi as saying when asked if the directive would have an adverse effect on his training programs. “They say they don’t want us to camp, so we will not have a camp.”
Explaining why he wanted to have a camp, Keshi had said that it would help him to bring the home-based players up to the fitness level of their foreign-based counterparts in addition to using the opportunity to start grooming players for the next African Championships in South Africa since some of the Eagles stars are likely become foreign-based before then and thus ineligible to feature.
A source close to Keshi told News Express that this is yet another ploy by the NFF to frustrate the coach but expressed confidence that he would succeed in realising his ambition of qualifying the Eagles for the World Cup.
“They just from nowhere, saying no money and no camping, that he should cut down. They didn’t even have the courtesy to invite him to the technical committee meeting where the decision was taken or to inform of their decision – journalists were the ones calling him to inform him,” the source lamented.
Though the Super Eagles need just a point to progress to the final stage of qualifying for the Brazil 2014 World Cup, Keshi would prefer not to take chances. The coach has faced several distractions from the NFF and Nigeria’s Sports Ministry since leading the country to win the last Africa Cup of Nations in South Africa in February. Among them is the ill-timed decision that the players should sign a Code of Conduct and accept half their usual $10,000 winning bonus. The coaches are also being owed a backlog of wages.
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