Stephen Keshi was on the verge of signing a #10 million Naira per month remuneration contract renewal, but for NFF leadership strife that kept it on hold. But it’s interesting how the ‘Big Boss’ fortune crumbled in just a space of two months – from a lofty height where NFF were ready to pay him whatsoever he asked, to a crash down where he was just thrown away like a bath water.
Keshi had an incredible run as the head coach of Nigeria national team from 2011 to 2014. And in just 3 years he met every record any other coach had ever set in the country. He won Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON 2013) and took Nigeria to second round of 2014 FIFA World Cup. He was awarded Africa’s coach of the year 2013.
But Keshi is only human and did make some avoidable mistakes during his reign as head coach of Super Eagles. The lessons are now for any coach that comes to the hot seat in future. In this article, I’ll be sharing with you six lessons to learn from Keshi’s story.
- Leave When the Ovation is Loudest: Keshi has won all he can and should have honorably resigned after the world cup. His outstanding records would have given him a better bargaining power for any country or club that needs his services. But the dent now has lowered his value in the football market.
2. The Hot Seat Doesn’t Tolerate Poor Result: The position of head coach, Nigeria national team, doesn’t tolerate poor results. Once Keshi began to lose some of the key games in AFCON qualifiers – 2-3 loss at home to Congo in Calabar; and 1-0 loss to Sudan in Khartoum – the hand writing was already on the wall that sooner or later, he would be sacked.
3. Let NFF Carry Its Own Cross: Knowing that winning is what matters in the game of football, Keshi should have refused to be in charge of Super Eagles, when the team wasn’t prepared enough for the qualifiers. His contract had ended and he should have stayed away until the renewal at least. Helping NFF bear the blunt has now burnt his fingers.
4. Don’t Burn Bridges: One of the reasons NFF choose Shaibu Amodu to replace Keshi, I think is because of his players’ management skills.
Keshi in the course of instilling discipline into the team has burnt many bridges among some key players. For instance, Ikechukwu Uche who played key role in Super Eagles qualification was rudely thrown out of the team after AFCON. Keshi never knew he would need him again in such a crucial time as this.
The same treatment was melted to Obafemi Martins, Brown Ideye, Obinna Nsofor… Now Keshi couldn’t get the best legs to play for Nigeria, because of his snobbish attitude.
5. You Can’t Shaun Your Boss: Keshi was severally unruly to his bosses at NFF; but got away with it while still getting all the results. But it took only but a little slip for the executive committee to cash in. There wasn’t a better time than now to sack Keshi – that’s office politics for you.
6. The Revolving Nature of the Job: Keshi’s loyal fans argued that NFF should have given him time to recover, since Super Eagles won the second leg match against Sudan, 3-1 in Abuja. Well, Keshi is likely to get another chance in the future – time will justify his actions. But for now, he has to step aside – that’s the nature of the job.