A Recipe for Failure

Keshi
Keshi

There is a general fear that the travel arrangement made by the Nigeria Football Federation for the Super Eagles to travel to Kenya for the 2014 World Cup qualifier on June 5, is a recipe for failure

|  By Anayo Ezugwu  |  Jun. 10, 2013 @ 01:00 GMT

THE Super Eagles chances of qualifying for the 2014 World Cup in Brazil are in doubt going by the travel arrangement of the team released by the Nigeria Football Federation. The Super Eagles will play their decisive world Cup qualifiers against the Harambee Stars of Kenya in Nairobi on June 5. According to the NFF, the Super Eagles will travel late to avoid the threat by the Kenya FA to frustrate them when they arrive Nairobi. The NFF said the team would travel to Nairobi from Germany on June 4.

During the first leg encounter in Nigeria early this year, the Kenyan delegation accused the NFF of deliberately putting them under stressful conditions. The Kenya FA alleged that the Harambee Stars and their officials were accommodated in a substandard hotel in Lagos after missing their flight to Calabar. They also claimed that they were not given any security while in Lagos and had to find a football field to train at the Ajao Estate Primary School in Oshodi, Lagos. The Kenyan FA had vowed to retaliate when their counterpart arrive in Nairobi.

Worried by a possible retaliation, the NFF has decided that the Super Eagles would arrive late for the match. Emmanuel Ikpeme, assistant secretary-general, NFF, who announced the travel arrangement, said the Eagles will travel late to avoid any unhealthy treatment from the host country. “On June 3, they will leave Frankfurt Germany through Amsterdam to arrive in Nairobi, Kenya on June 4, so they can have a training session later that day and get ready for the Wednesday June 5, crucial match against Kenya. We don’t expect the Kenyans to put any obstacles on our way. But we are not taking any chances. We are in touch with the Nigerian High Commissioner and we can handle any kind of eventuality,” he said.

Super Eagles Team
Super Eagles Team

But some sports analysts believe that arriving late in Nairobi portends danger for the Super Eagles. It may negatively affect the chances of the team qualifying for the World Cup considering the hours the team would spend on their way to Kenya. Shaibu Amodu, Super Eagles technical director, said that the Eagles’ main target should be to qualify for the 2014 World Cup, rather than trying to win the Confederations Cup. He said that there is no point in winning a World Cup dress rehearsal and missing out on the big party next year?

“What’s the point in winning a World Cup dress rehearsal and missing out on the big party next year? The World Cup is a crucial one for the country. For us, it is the most important tournament. The fans and the media expect Nigeria to win the Confederations Cup, but it is less important to the team and country to be honest,” Amodu said.

Christian Chukwu, former Super Eagles coach, said his main concern was the spate of injuries being nursed by Super Eagles players ahead of the crucial World Cup qualifying matches in June. As at the last count, Victor Moses, Kalu Uche, Reuben Gabriel and Ahmed Musa, among others have declared themselves unavailable for the 2014 FIFA World Cup qualifiers against Kenya in Nairobi and Namibia in Windhoek on June 5 and 12 respectively. The injured players will equally be unavailable for the side’s campaign at the 2013 FIFA Confederations Cup in Brazil coming up from June 15 to 30.

Chukwu described the development as unfortunate but said it is a challenge to Stephen Keshi to produce capable replacements for the injured players. “It’s unfortunate that the players are picking up injuries at a time we need their services most. However, it’s an opportunity for the coach to give other players the chance in the squad to prove their mettle. Who knows, we may discover to our chagrin that they’re better than the ones they replaced. Once the reason is on account of injury, it’s always better to go into a game with fit players than the unfit ones no matter their pedigree. An injured player is a high risk and a big gamble to field in a crucial game. I’m worried by the development as it’s always good and reassuring for a coach to go into a game with his best materials but that’s not to say that if we put our acts right, pick good replacements quickly, we’ll not be able to post good results in the matches,” he said.

But Stephen Keshi, the Super Eagles coach, has declared that the team would not miss the services of the injured players in the World Cup qualifying matches against Kenya and Namibia as well as the FIFA Confederations Cup tournament. Keshi, who was not happy with the fact that the players did not inform him earlier of their injuries, said he was unperturbed with the latest development. “We have the players to deliver the World Cup ticket, and to make Nigerians proud in Brazil,” he reassured.

Keshi is upbeat that the team would grab the Brazil 2014 World Cup ticket. “By the grace of God, we will do our very best to secure the World Cup ticket and also fly Africa’s flag brilliantly at the FIFA Confederations Cup. We want Nigerians to continue to pray for the team,” he said.

In a message to Keshi, Uche said that he had been playing with injury for some time now in the Turkish League and had been advised by his doctor to use the opportunity of the off-season to undergo treatment. Moses, like Kalu, is dropping out on account of injury too. The Chelsea winger opted out to treat a recurring injury and would not be fit in time for the World Cup qualifiers and the Confederations Cup. But despite his shape, his club confirmed that he would be with the Chelsea squad at their pre-season tour of the USA to be monitored closely by doctors, without taking active part in the tour.

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