It has to be said that Coach Stephen Keshi’s third coming to the senior national team – the Super Eagles is in itself a record even though fans and critics alike are still wondering what he can hope to achieve with the team after winning the 2013 Africa Nations Cup and getting to the second round of the 2014 World Cup.
The Big Boss will get his baptism of fire in this new era with the game against Chad on Saturday in the 2017 Africa Cup of Nations Qualifiers.
However, if he does not want to end his time at the helm of the team in ignominy, he needs to consider taking the following steps suggested by PREMIUM TIMES’ in-house analyst.
Keep it simple – just make the team hard to beat
Football can be easy if it is about receiving, retaining and releasing but we all know that the simplest things in life can be complicated by philosophy and dictum. Keshi must realise that what made his first months at the helm successful and reassuring to football fans was the fact that the Super Eagles were a hard team to beat. Even though they were not scoring lots of goals, they were not letting them in either. Keshi must revert to that template and from that point, the new team can begin to take shape and grow.
Use players that are ready to die for him
There is no point going to battle with soldiers who will take to their heels at the very first sight of a challenge. So Keshi must ensure that only players who have something to gain by playing well for the country and those who want him to succeed are allowed opportunity to play. Big names play football – that is when you are talking about the likes of Lionel Messi, Cristiano Ronaldo, Neymar and maybe Zlatan Ibrahimovic; but fortunately for the ‘big Boss’, he need not worry as Nigeria currently cannot boast of any big-name player.
Have a Plan B
And in planning for any opponent, Keshi must ensure that he is always armed with a Plan B. One of the greatest challenges the Super Eagles have faced in the last two years is that they are very predictable and more tactically-sound teams are finding it easy to neutralize the team’s strengths. Plan B might not actually be about playing tactics but about personnel. There must be bench players who he is able to introduce that will change the pattern of play of the team.
Ensure that the NFF understand what they are to do for him
One of the reasons there was so much discord between him and the former NFF board was the fact that the two parties were almost always on different pages. If he wants to succeed this time around, he must ensure that he carries the Amaju Pinnick-led board along whilst also ensuring that he seeks to understand before he is understood. No man is an island and no matter the injustices he feels have been meted out to him, this board has signed him on a two-year contract so they must have some faith in his ability and capability.
Drop some of his ego
Keshi was not nicknamed the ‘Big Boss’ for been big in stature – it was because of a leadership mien that border on the arrogant. It is good to have a hint of arrogance because it shows that you are sure of what you are doing but no man is an island of knowledge and no man can succeed alone. And because he has won things with this team – there is the tendency to believe that he is the only one that knows what is best for the team; that can be but he is not the one that employed himself!
Football fans in the country do not care about the politics in the football house. All they want is to see the various teams succeed internationally, starting with the Super Eagles and if Keshi, in this third coming can assemble a team that is again the pride of Nigeria and Africa, then his third coming would have been a necessity and not something that happened because the NFF did not have any better choice.
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