IKECHUKWU UCHE RAISES ALARM: "Why is Stephen Keshi Playing to the Gallery ?"

Aftermath of the two games with Malawi and Rwanda, Ikechukwu Uche, one of the few foreign based players in the new Super Eagles, has bemoaned the squad low standard of play. He has suggested that Nigeria coach, Stephen Keshi, include more foreign based players into the team. "We need our best legs now, to be able to execute the assignments at hand successfully." But Keshi has insisted that he will only include players that have shown commitment to the team. Players that is hungry for success. He said he found that in most of the home based players in the squad.

I hope Keshi understands what he is doing. Maybe, he feels he has all the time to experiment with home based players. He has been bold to use them in the two games with Malawi and Rwanda. I hope he is not playing to the gallery. Come on, have you seen the Super Eagle play recently? Ex- international, Jonathan Akpoborie, described them as 'a big joke.' Maybe, Keshi is playing joke on us and that worries me a lot. I didn't like what I saw in the Rwanda game in Calabar, even though we won. And the three questions keep coming to my mind are:

First, will Keshi be bold enough to use this same squad when we meet football playing countries like, CIV, Ghana, Egypt, and Zambia...? With this squad, I will not put my heart to that test. I would rather stay away and save myself from heart attack. But if Keshi will not use them, why waste time with them now. This is the time to start blending a formidable team.

Second, even if this squad manages to qualify, will Keshi use them to execute top competitions like Africa Cup Of Nations (AFCON), and the World Cup?  Well, Keshi should know that football has levels. Nigerian league has not developed to the point of producing high performance players. I remember the great Eyimba team that won the CAF Champions Cup back to back in 2002, 2003 and had to participate in the World Club championship. I saw their match with Inter Milan, hell, it was like a game of basketball. The Inter Milan team scored Eyimba at will. It clearly showed that the two teams were not at the same level at all. But they were so outstanding in Nigeria and Africa.

Third, let us assume that Keshi decided to stick with this crop of home based players, will NFF allow him to do so, won't the government interfer with the team selection? We all know how this things play out in Nigeria. So, Keshi should stop playing to the gallery and get serious with building a winning team.

Although, Samson Siasia failed to qualify Nigeria for AFCON, but we all saw that he has started to build a team. I expected Keshi to come on board to consolidate on his effort, instead of deciding to play the super hero. Now, he has started to build with the home based players from the scratch. I hope he would not abandon them when the chips are down, and go for the foreign based players. It may back fire, because he will still not earn the trust and commitment of these already disgruntled players. Then, all the friendly matches the squad has been playing will only amount to a waste of time. The team will not still blend if Keshi decide to call up the foreign players at the eleventh hour.

I hope Keshi will prove all these analysis wrong. But, don't get me wrong, I am not criticizing Keshi, I just want Super Eagles playing well again and winning. Let us not aim at building a team that will just make up the number in AFCON or World Cup. Let us build a world class team of champions. The time is now!

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