I
resume my Super Eagles diary as the national team prepares for that crunch
qualifying game against Sudan in Abuja on Wednesday.
How
our standards have fallen as crunch games are no longer against Ivory Coast,
Cameroon or Ghana but now against Sudan, but isn’t that the way life deals with
people?
From Jalingo
with love
After
doing the 15 hour road trip with Dolphins from Port Harcourt to Jalingo in
Taraba State on Friday, I alighted from the club bus five hours into the
journey back to Port Harcourt at Aliade on Monday to make my way to Abuja for
the Super Eagles game.
At
5.30pm I was in Abuja and really wanted to head to a hotel to catch a rest but
a call to Andrew Randa of Supersport made me change course and head to the
stadium.
I
had already missed the sports minister, Tammy Danagogo and NFF president, Amaju
Pinnick so maybe I could just talk to journalists around if I do not catch up
with the Eagles but I did.
I
caught them as they rounded up their training and I sighted Aaron Samuel who
plays in the Chinese league and used to be at Dolphins and Shooting Stars.
I
had only one question for Aaron and it was simple- “You play in the Chinese
league. Nigerians do not think you deserve to be in the Super Eagles… What do
you think?”
Aaron
simply said he deserves to be in the Eagles.
“The
fact that I play in China does not mean I do not deserve to play in the Eagles.
Everyone knows why he is playing in whatever club he plays in. There is also a
reason I am in my Chinese club. The fact that I play in China does not mean I do
not deserve to be in the national team,” Samuel said.
Very
straightforward, wasn’t it?
2nd
choice keeper, Austin Ejide wanted Nigerians to rally round the team saying it
was an opportunity to be at the AFCON as champions and urged Nigerians to
support them rather than criticize them.
Keshi still
optimistic

Stephen
Keshi, looking humbled, yet being brash in fits and starts said he wanted to
win against Sudan on Wednesday saying that is the most important thing for him
and the team.
He
urged fans to come out and support the team and not boo them.
“They
have to be patient with the players because booing them will not be good for
the team.”
He
admitted that he too was disappointed that the Eagles did not win but
shockingly said the criticism was more of a propaganda to kill the spirit of
the team.
“This
is our nation. We do not have any other one so you cannot sell your country. The
criticism is not about the game but more of a propaganda to kill a team that we
are trying to put together because of one thing or the other, self-interest.
“If
you do not want to support us keep quiet and stay at home. It’s a shame that I will
be the one saying it, but I have to because it is my country. If you want to go
around sabotaging the team not to succeed then we kill it ourselves.
“You
too won’t be there. We will all watch it on TV.”
But
what does Keshi think about reports that Nigerians want him sacked or his
contract not renewed?
“It
won’t be a new thing. The job of a coach is hire and fire. I’ve coached in
other places and never been fired. I have been here before. We qualified for
the World Cup with Shaibu in 2002 and also won the bronze at the AFCON and we
were asked to leave. It’s not about the game, it’s about personal stuff and if
tomorrow they say I should leave, I will go. Two or three countries are
waiting. Nigeria is not the last place to play football and it is not the last
place I will coach,” Keshi said.
But
what if Nigeria does not qualify for the AFCON?
“I
will be sad if we do not qualify for the AFCON and I will also be disappointed.
I want to go to the AFCON. It’s my country and my job. I want to win the Cup
again for Nigeria. It’s an ambition for me. I do not want to see the AFCON
without Nigeria, but like they say, man proposes, God disposes.”
At
the end of the session, a new Keshi, looked at the hoard of journos and asked, “now
that I have answered the questions, can I go?” like he was begging permission
from them and when they chorused that he can go, he stepped out.
He
actually asked twice if he can go… Is this a new Keshi humbled by two defeats
to Congo and Sudan?
Spat with Mikel
again

Just
as Keshi was stepping out there was a ruckus right there on the pitch as an Abuja
based radio sports show host was visibly angry that Mikel Obi just snubbed him
but was more angry that Kenneth Omeruo did same.
My
personal opinion was that you cannot force a player to talk to you. I personally
have never sought an interview with Mikel Obi because of what they say is his
attitude to the Nigerian press so I wonder why someone was getting angry over
an attitude we all know about…. Ok, he was angrier that Omeruo did the same
thing…
The drama of
Gwarimpa
It
was time to shut down for the day and my good friend, Andrew Randa drove down
from Minna and convinced me to stay at the same hotel as he somewhere at
Gwarimpa.
The
thing was he didn’t know his way around and I didn’t too.
But
why would you drive all the way to another city if your car then becomes
useless?
We
sought directions from Arafat Aliu and while he spoke, I looked at Randa… he
was as clueless as David Moyes trying to get a winning formula over MK Dons so I
knew we were doomed.
We
tried to reach Kisulola who should have been our guide but she couldn’t be
reached.
Needless
to say, Randa, myself, Azubuike Fynecountry and a stop gap guide we picked up
outside the stadium drove around Abuja for 90 minutes trying to find Gwarimpa.
Worse
still, when we got to Kado estate, which was just a touching distance to
Gwarimpa, we still could not navigate our way in.
We
were the shame of the nation… we still are.
Eventually
we found it after making fools of ourselves and even mistakenly driving against
traffic at one point.
Moral of the
story:
Don’t
take a ride in Andy Randa’s car….
Tomorrow
is another day… I hope it will be good.

Pictures by @50degreeswest

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