Vanguard (Lagos)

21 September 2012

Nigeria: Don't Impose Players On Keshi, Toro Warns

Photo: Aliyu Adekunle/Vanguard
Super Eagles supporters rallying behind their team in Calabar (File Photo)

Former Secretary General of the Nigeria Football Association (NFA) Alhaji Sani Ahmed Toro has cautioned the nation's football authority against the imposition of players on the Super Eagles coach, Stephen Keshi in the execution of the 2013 African Cup of Nations (AFCON) qualifiers.

The former member of the House of Representatives while speaking against the backdrop of the pressures from some quarters on Keshi to invite players like Chelsea's midfielder, John Mikel Obi and West Brom's forward, Osaze Odemwingie in the second leg of the AFCON qualifier against Lone Star of Liberia next month in Calabar, canvassed that the federation must change its orientation and allow the Eagles handler a free hand to to do his job.

"We should not dictate for Keshi the players he should invite, rather we should give him all the support he needs to succeed in qualifying for the Nations Cup in South Africa next year.

Once you employ a coach, you have to give him responsibility of tinkering his team, who comes in, who goes out, and I always believe he is a good coach. Keshi has managed two national teams in two different countries and Nigeria is the third country, so he has the wealth of experience. He should be left to make his choice of players that would soothe the kind of match he wants to play", he said.

The former Sports Commissioner in Bauchi state also decried calls for the hiring of a foreign technical adviser for the the senior national team.

He said, "those calling for the hiring of a foreign technical adviser do not mean well for the nation now. We shouldn't think along that line, that will be a distraction to the team when they should be concentrating on training ahead for the remaining qualifying matches. That's the mistake we keep making".

He was however, hopeful that the Eagles would scale through the qualification match against Liberia, stressing, "God willing, I know the Eagles are going to do well in the forthcoming match against Liberia in Calabar next month.

They know what is at stake and I am happy that things are being put in place for the national team. Nigerians are eager to see how prepared we are for the qualifiers and the competition proper. It's an already won match as far as I'm concerned, having gotten an away draw from the first leg. Liberia will surely fall here come October 13 in Calabar", he said.

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