By JOE APU
Last Tuesday, February 12, 2013, Super Eagles’ Coach, Stephen Okechukwu Keshi, got President Goodluck Jonathan’s backing to continue with his job all the way to the FIFA World Cup 2014 in Brazil, thus putting to rest, the squabbles and threats of sack from the Nigeria Football Federation (NFF).
However, the President General of the Nigeria Football and Other Sports Supporters Club, Dr. Rafiu Ladipo, has called on the victorious coach not to get carried away by the presidential backing and become too big for his employer, the NFF. He noted that it was a great thing for Keshi to get the backing of Mr. President after he won the Africa Cup of Nation in South Africa, but that Keshi should not lose sight of the fact that his employer remains the NFF.
“I’m particularly glad that Keshi has brought smiles to our faces with the Nations Cup win in South Africa after 19 years of waiting and winning bronze. At last, the long wait for the trophy has come to an end and the coaches and players deserve all they got, thanks to the generousity of Mr President, but Keshi should not forget that his employer remains the NFF and he should see it as his partners in progress.
That trophy was the most soothing thing for Nigerians who have hungered for the win.” He warned that the coach should not take things for granted because he has the backing of Mr President and, therefore, see it as licence to undermine the federation. “Keshi needs the NFF and the NFF needs him. Having won the trophy in South Africa is a big boost to his career and I’m happy for him that he got the backing of the President.
Whatever happened in South Africa during the Nations Cup is now history and should be confined to the past. Both parties need to set their differencies aside and work in the interest of Nigeria.” Speaking on the selection of the six home-based players that were picked for the Nations Cup 2013, Ladipo said he was glad that the home lads did not disappoint Keshi and Nigerians. “It’s, indeed, a thing of joy to see the home-based players doing a good job in the 23-man squad. It would bring some level of responsibility to others who have not been called to the national team to work harder to get selection.
There’re many talents in Nigeria and with some encouragement, many more would come to prove their capability. Reacting to demise of former Green Eagles star, Okey Isima, Ladipo expressed shock saying that it was a sad tale to listen to at a time the nation is enjoying the euphoria of the Nations Cup glory. In the same vein, former Secretary General of the Nigeria Football Association, NFA, Taiwo Ogunjobi who played with Isima said it was a sad loss. “Okey Isima was my team mate way in from the 1970’s. He is one player that was devoid of tribalism to the core. He never wanted anything to cause rancour on issues of tribe. He will be greatly missed.