Vanguard (Lagos)

10 September 2012

Nigeria: Keshi Reads Riot Act to Eagles

Keshi, officials disagree on Mikel

Super Eagles players have been told in no uncertain terms that their display against Lone Star of Liberia, was a show of unprofessionalism and such will no longer be accepted, with Stephen Keshi declaring that he did not see enough fighting spirit in the players.

Keshi addressed the players at the Samuel Kanyon Doe Stadium in Monrovia, moments after the encounter, when surging fans prevented

the team from leaving the arena. He also took time off to mention some players who did not show enough professionalism in the green white colours of the Nigerian side and said anyone who is invited and knows he will not be able to show maturity and patriotism should henceforth stay away from the national team and he will thank such a players.

"I will appreciate players staying away and saying they cannot make it than for them to come and show Nigerians that we are not serious here. I recall that when we thought we were going to play on a synthetic pitch, I called Mikel Obi and he said its not healthy for him to play on such a pitch that is the type of maturity and honesty I want from all national team players", he howled.

Keshi also told all the 22 players that went for the battle of Monrovia, that henceforth any player invited and can't make it the appointed time to camp, should not bother to come late as he will not be welcomed. "Any player who cannot make it on time should just stay away, because we need all the time we can get to blend for our games, because the Nations Cup is just around the corner", he said.

The former Anderletch of Belgium and Strasbourg of France big defence cover, said he can no longer watch the national team pick draws when victory is at the window. "With this attitude on the pitch from top professionals that are in this collection, we won't excel at the Nations Cup, that is what we want to stop", he said.

Top officials and Eagles coach Stephen Keshi are at daggers drawn over Chelsea ace Mikel Obi after the team's midfield collapsed in Liberia.

Keshi insisted after his team were forced to a 2-2 draw that his midfield was intact and he would only recall Mikel if he is ready to commit to the country's cause.

However, several top officials who accompanied the team to Monrovia have asked that whatever personal differences that may exist between the coach and the Chelsea midfielder be thrashed so that he returns for the return leg match in Calabar next month.

"My two midfielders, Nosa Igiebor and Obiora Nwankwo, had a good game. The only problem was that we played a 4-2-4 formation and we expected that the wingers, Ejike Uzoenyi and Victor Moses, would fall back into midfield when we are defending and they often did not," Keshi explained.

The Eagles coach showed his irritation that the issue of Mikel has again been brought to the front burner.

"I have said before that Mikel is still very much part of my team, but he has to show his commitment to the team for me to recall him," defended Keshi.

A top NFF official said "If he were committed to the country, he would have agreed to play on any surface but since he opted out of the game in Liberia because it was first thought would be played on artificial pitch, which he said affects him, one would have also thought that after it was learnt the game will be played on grass, he would have called to play," argued the official.

More so he went on to say "will not tell Keshi to call Mikel or not to call him because we will not impose any player on him."

However, several officials who accompanied the team to Liberia were very clear on the need to recall Mikel beginning with the return leg in October in Calabar.

House of Representative committee on sports member Abdul Wudil demanded: "The midfield was porous and we therefore have to get Mikel back. So, whatever differences the coach may have with him and Osaze (Odemwingie) must be addressed before the next game."

"As a matter of urgency, Mikel and Osaze must be recalled because even though they are good, the players from the Nigeria league have struggled when it matters most," added Senator Abdulaziz Usman.

"Mikel and Osaze are matured players who can still hold their own against anybody."

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