Tuesday, October 11, 2005

Stephen Keshi Rejoices and Obafemi Martins Regrets

The failure of the Super Eagles of Nigeria to qualify for the World Cup Finals in Germany in 2006 has become a controversial issue among millions of soccer loving people in Nigeria and the rest of the World. Nigeria and fellow African soccer superpowers like Cameroon and Senegal failed to qualify where even such a lowly rated country like Togo qualified! And guess what? The national coach of Togo is a Nigerian! The former captain of the Super Eagles, the Boss himself Stephen Keshi. Who was spurned by the NFA of Nigeria, but was hired by Togo and took the national soccer team of Togo from the backyard of African soccer to the centre of the stage of the finals of the World Cup. So, we thank God for Stephen Keshi for his great achievement in the history of African soccer.

The wiz kid of Inter Milan, Obafemi Martins who did his best to make sure that Nigeria qualified now regrets the failure of the Super Eagles. Here are the reports on Stephen Keshi and Obafemi Martins from the BBC.

Togo coach praises team.

Patrice Citera BBC Sport, Kinshasa.

"I don't have enough words to express my joy but I dedicate this victory to my late father."-
Togo coach, Stephen Keshi

Togo's coach has attributed their maiden World Cup qualification to the dedication of his players to his training programme.

"I thank my players for making me feel like the greatest coach on earth," Stephen Keshi told BBC Sport after their 3-2 victory over Congo in Brazzaville.
"My goal has always been to take them to the World Cup because I knew there's a lot of potential here, even though they would have been happy with qualifying for the Cup of Nations.

"I don't have enough words to express my joy but I dedicate this victory to my late father, who passed away just before our home qualifier against Liberia," Keshi said.
The former Nigeria captain - who led the Super Eagles to their first World Cup finals in 1994 - said his second trip to football's most prestigious event will be as memorable as his first.

Keshi, who took over the Hawks after the 2004 African Cup of Nations in Tunisia, said his players coped with the radical changes he has made to the national team.
"We were on the bottom of the table when we started the qualifiers and the players had to make a 90 degree turn to adapt to what I wanted them to do.
"I had to let them know that they are good players but it was up to me as the coach to put them in the right frame of mind and ensure that they believed in themselves."
But Keshi's joy at leading Togo to the World Cup was dampened by Nigeria's failure to qualify.

"I feel sad to see Nigeria out of the World Cup. No matter where I go or what I do, my blood is still Nigerian.
"I've spent my whole life with the Nigerian national team, so there is a bond that cannot be broken."
"If we can beat Zimbabwe and are unable to go the World Cup, there's something wrong."
"I hope Nigerians can look at what's wrong and correct the problems," he said.

Story from BBC SPORT:

Published: 2005/10/10 10:54:14 GMT

Martins warns Nigeria
By Oluwashina Okeleji BBC Sport, Abuja

"This [failure] is a lesson. We failed to take chances during the qualifiers and have paid dearly for it"-
Obafemi Martins

Nigeria striker Obafemi Martins has said their failure to qualify for next year's World Cup should kick-start the reform of football administration in the country.
"It's terrible [not qualifying for the World Cup] but this [failure] is a lesson," he told BBC Sport on Saturday.

"We failed to take chances during the qualifiers and have paid dearly for it."
Nigeria beat Zimbabwe 5-1 on Saturday but could not pick the World Cup ticket, after Angola became Group Four winners, following their 1-0 win over Rwanda in Kigali.
"We did all we could [to qualify] and finished off our last game perfectly.
"But when destiny plays a cruel one on you, you have to move on and concentrate on the future," Martins advised.

With next year's African Cup of Nations taking place in less than four months, Martins said his colleagues are determined to lift the trophy, as a way to appease Nigerian fans who are bitterly disappointed with their failure to book passage to Germany 2006.

"With the World Cup dream over, we have to concentrate on the Cup of Nations.
"The players have resolved to do well in Egypt [by winning the trophy], that would go a long way in compensating the fans.
"But the Nigeria FA will have to be more organized for us to achieve that."

Story from BBC SPORT:

Published: 2005/10/09 14:46:39 GMT

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