Daily Trust (Abuja)

Nigeria: Keshi Urged to Concentrate On Eagles' Afcon Preparation

Photo: Sydney Mahlangu/Backpagepix
Peter Odemwingie.

Super Eagles Head Coach, Stephen Keshi has been urged to building a strong and formidable team for the forthcoming Africa Cup of Nations in South Africa, rather than dissipate energy of defending the list of invited players for the African soccer show.

Giving the advice in a chat with sports reporters in Abuja yesterday, foremost football administrator, Alhaji Aminu Kurfi, said joining issues with those that have chosen to criticize the provisional list would distract the coach from having time to marshal out good strategies for the team ahead of the continental soccer fiesta.

According to Kurfi, Keshi as the arbiter on who should and should not constitute the team must be focused, forthright, diligent in the task of building a team from the lot in his list, stressing that explaining to people the reason for selecting any player or leaving out whoever he feels may not necessary nor would not help his course at all.

"Having been with these players, assigned them roles in the past, watched their tactical temperament and docility, Keshi must have put several indices into consideration before drawing up his provisional list.

"I don't think he needs to explain to some players or even the general public why these players were left out especially if he had in the past specifically instructed them on what he wanted but they failed to meet the yardstick.

"He is not the first coach leave out seemingly good players out of his team. The likes of Eric Contana, Romario, among others, were left out of the French and Brazilian teams by their coaches, yet these teams did well in the World Cup finals respectively. Keshi has a contract, knows what the Nigerian public wants and should know the quality of players (including their discipline quotients) to use to prosecute the campaign and achieve the aim," he said.

Meanwhile, he has appealed to the Nigeria Football Federation (NFF), to take up the Shola Ameobi issue with FIFA, and thus checkmate whatever plans Alan Pardew may want to hatch against the player's participation in the Nations Cup.

It would be recalled that the Newcastle manager had insisted that the forward, who was included in Keshi's 32-man provisional just after one appearance for the Eagles in a friendly game against Venezuela, would not be available for selection in the 23-man squad for the Nations Cup finals proper.

Though the NFF has reacted by stating that the Nations Cup finals is a FIFA recognized competition that enjoys clubs' release of players across the world to play for their nations and also that Ameobi is a FIFA licensed player, Kurfi said reaching out to FIFA to speak on the matter would put paid to Pardew's intentions against his release.

Besides, he wants the football federation to seek the confidence of Ameobi in the matter before carrying out any action adding that it would necessary to confirm his interest in representing Nigeria at the Nations Cup finals in South Africa.

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