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3 Years Of Stephen Keshi: Megapro’s Report Card - Sports - Nairaland

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3 Years Of Stephen Keshi: Megapro’s Report Card by megapro(m): 9:26pm On Nov 04, 2014
3 years of Stephen Keshi: Megapro’s report card

Out of the dead, and straight back to the head.

Megapro from Cybereagles takes a look at Keshi’s miraculous resurrection, how he has fared in all the tasks in front of him, as well as the manner his successes and intrigues in such a short time are propelling him to be one of the greatest Africans of all time.

On this day four years ago, now two-time Nigeria coach Stephen Keshi was at an airport in Nigeria waiting to board a plane for his interview to be the head coach of the Super eagles for the very first time. Probably relying on his achievements and assurances, his confidence was overbearing and it never bothered him when reminded that his rival for the post, the popular Samson Siasia was the ‘chosen one’ and had more connections at the relevant high places. Siasia was picked over him the next day, and a deflated Keshi returned to his wife in the USA with the resolve never to be taken for such a ride in the future regarding the post of head coach of the Super eagles. No more sham interview.

He did not have to wait too long.

Samson Siasia did not survive a year as he somehow navigated Nigeria out of the 2013 AFCON Qualifiers tossing the nation into agony. (See Megapro’s Siasia misadventure 2011). Nigeria had never failed to qualify for the AFCON anytime in the previous 26 years and after some bickering the NFF had to pick who they felt was the right person to pull Nigeria out of the mess Siasia did, raise up moral and cook a team to face AFCON, WC and CHAN. They found no other immediate viable option than to call Keshi in the USA and beg him.

Keshi made a few consultations (including with Amodu), gave conditions (including on assistants and wages) and accepted to face the uphill tasks. Nigeria was going to be an absentee at the AFCON, had been an absentee at CHAN, and managed to pick up just a point at the last WC. He was going to be judged based on how he fared on the tasks.

Keshi is a bossy, cocky, divisive chap with a strong personality. He keeps no prisoners irrelevant of whatever strata they are from and many felt it would be some miracle if he was able to survive the 12 months Siasia did not. He had never been known to be a proponent of attacking soccer and any poor string of results would place his job on the line as Nigerians see winning as their right and entitlement.

Straight to work. He had enough time for the AFCON qualifiers so decided to work with the players in the local league in view of finding some from there to beef up the Super eagles. The home-based team was seen as not good enough and had never qualified for any african championship, but Keshi knew that by entrusting these home-based players and not shutting them out of the SE, he was giving them the ware withal to confront their peers from the other African countries. Between 2011 and 2013, he was able to qualify for all the tournaments he entered, including the Confederations cup which he qualified by virtue of his AFCON victory, and in all these tournaments, he broke some form of record or the other.

AFCON 2013.
Keshi qualified for AFCON without losing a game. He took about the youngest Nigerian team ever throwing in 17 AFCON debutants and after a cautious start, eliminated Zambia, CIV and Mali from the tournament. These 3 countries were the best ranked in the previous tournament and such a feat was a first. He went on to win the AFCON to return the cup to Nigeria for the first time in 19 years, and tellingly, became the only person after Egypt’s Gohary to win the event as a captain and a coach. Winning the AFCON meant Nigeria was participating in the Confederations cup where they had made only one appearance- a full 18 years prior.

CHAN 2014
Keshi agreed to execute the qualifying series for the CHAN. Previous SE coaches found a way to dodge this task as they did not want failure here to jeopardize their SE head coach role. Our last game handled by then assitant Daniel Amokachi had been away to Niger in a qualifier where we were eliminated and Federation member Alili Galadima met his death attending. Keshi qualified Nigeria for the first time at first attempt and tried to get the NFF’s blessing that his assistant same Amokashi should take the team to the competition proper while he returned to the states but the NFF bluntly refused. An opening game loss there meant beating the hosts in the decider to qualify and the team rose up to the occasion to put up their best display at the event and qualified for the QF.

The QF turned out to be another consuming story as Nigeria overcame a three goal first half deficit to win the game in regulation time. The team lost to a cagey, defiant 10 man Ghana team through penalty kicks in the SF but a medal from the third place match meant the exercise brought good returns for a team that had never qualified.

Keshi equaled Amodu’s record by qualifying for the WC UNDEFEATED (Amodu did this twice) while others that had qualified Nigeria for the WC (Westerhof and Troussier) tasted defeat along the way. Qualification was never smooth sailing as most of the SE goals came very late in the games particularly the equalizer against Kenya at home. Ethiopia was seen off in the final qualifier and Nigeria booked a place in the mundial.

In the WC proper, Nigeria battled determined Iran to a goalless draw in the opener , deviced a way to pip Bosnia with a lone goal in the second to bring the country her first WC win in 16 years, before losing to a Lionel Messi inspired Argentina in the third game - but Keshi had managed to qualify Nigeria for the second round of the WC for also the first time in same 16 years. Nigeria joined Algeria as the only African teams to progress. The SE crashed out in the second round after matching previous WC winners France the first hour before losing the vital Onazi to injury. An own goal from departing captain Joseph Yobo put an end to the contest and the coach joined in echoing that the team had risen to the limits of their potentials. He did not quite return a hero, but was not disgraced either and his role did not seem threatened.

Confed cup
Winning AFCON was the ticket for the 2013 confederations cup that was organized as a dress rehearsal for the 2014 WC in Brazil. Keshi saw this as an opportunity to try some previously uncapped players in a tournament setting and he duly set an African record in the very first game when Nigeria saw Tahiti off 6-1. Successive losses to two previous world champions that were both semifinalist at the last WC meant Nigeria exited the tournament with just one win just like she had achieved in her only previous participation in 1995.

Post 2014 WC
Keshi out of conract, agreed to execute the first few games of the 2015 AFCON Qualifiers. He had managed a reign to be proud of picking along the way honours, gifts and awards. He also was named after the World cup as the 14th best coach in the entire world. Starting these qualifiers, a shock loss to Congo was Nigeria’s first on home soil in a competitive grade A game since 1981 in a WCQ match he came in as a second half substitute for Christian Chukwu against the desert Foxes of Algeria, and a draw in the following game against South Africa away meant Nigeria needed 6 points from the next two October matches against Sudan.

This was not to happen. Sudan silenced a casual Nigeria team before time wasting the tie to an heroic end and the 3-1 nail biting redemption reverse in Nigeria was enough to keep Nigeria on life support and place their destiny in her own hands, but at the same time, it was not enough to keep Keshi on the job, He was sacked.

Amodu accepted the offer to prosecute the final two qualifying games but called his friend to explain the change. Keshi was surprised by the sack but not detonated, he decided to immediately seek a new challenge rather than sit in an academy, rely on the press or wait for some redeployment from the NFF; he declared interest for the vacant job of the Ghana black stars head coach and put together his credentials. The NFF possibility had scuttled his South Africa chance months ago, and he was not going to allow a similar job pass him bye this time around. The next days witnessed some bizarre string of events that catapulted Keshi to permanent Legend status.

On Sunday, with his name resurfacing everywhere ‘Spirit begin dey catch them. All of them from Giwa to Pinnick’ like Fela had said.
On Tuesday he left Benin for Lagos where he was to proceed to Ghana the next day to pursue the Black stars job.
On Wednesday, his country’s president Goodluck Ebele Jonathan called his MTN (not the first time) to beg him that he was the only person in the world at that moment that could save Nigerian soccer and prevent the looming FIFA ban. By the weekend, like Lazarus he had risen from the dead, sprung back to Amodu’s head coach position and become a two time Super Eagles coach. Legend.
There are weird stories in soccer but few come close to this. Keshi has long been acknowledged as the luckiest coach in the world after some strange feats like qualifying Togo for the WC, but last week, not even the Babalawos at Ikorodu that claim success was through their help and his hundreds of millions of Naira he has been charged in fees, were ready to see someone who was pelted with pure water sachets catapulted back to a position where given the fragile peace by aggrieved factions of the federation, losing two games will not necessarily guaranty a sack. The only option left is for all to see what next this whole Keshi enigma will produce. Like negotiate with terror groups in the various theaters of conflict?

This man has demystified his critics and pissed on his haters.

He that is down needs fear no fall. For the first time in 3 years, Keshi will know no pressure. He has been handed a new life, new impetus and has assembled a team that is capable of getting the necessary result to take Nigeria to AFCON. Difficult ,but achievable.

While awaiting the most important AFCON qualifying games Nigeria is involved in years, here are Stephen Okechukwu’s competitive matches in his first three years as Super Eagles coach.

Congrats Big Boss, and good luck!


Keshi’s competitive games with Nigeria

1. 29/02/2012 Rwanda 0-0 Ancq
2. 01/06/2012 Namibia 1-0 WCq
3. 07/06/2012 Malawi 1-1 WCq
4. 16/06/2012 Rwanda 2-0 Ancq
5. 08/09/2012 Liberia 2-2 Ancq
6. 13/10/2012 Liberia 6-1 Ancq
7. 21/01/2013 Bukina Fasso 1-1 AFCON
8. 25/01/2013 Zambia 1-1 AFCON
9. 29/01/2013 Ethiopia 2-0 AFCON
10. 03/02/2013 Cote D’Ivoire 2-1 AFCON
11. 06/02/2013 Mali 4:1 AFCON
12. 10/02/2013 Bukina Fasso 1:0 AFCON
13. 23/03/2013 Kenya 1:1 WCQ
14. 05/06/2013 Kenya 1:0 WCQ
15. 12/06/2013 Namibia 1:1 WCQ
16. 17.06.2013 Tahiti 6:1CONFED
17. 20.06.2013 Uruguay 1:2 CONFED
18. 23.06.2013 Spain 0:3 CONFED
19. 08/09/2013 Malawi 2:0 WCQ
20. 13/10/2013 Ethiopia 2:1 WCQ
22. Ethiopia 2-0 WCQ
23. Iran 0-0 D WC
24. Bosnia 1-0 WC
25. Argentina 2-3 WC
26. France 0-2 WC
27. Congo 2-3 AFCONQ
28. South Africa 0-0 AFCONQ
29. Sudan 0-1 AFCONQ
30. Sudan 3-1 AFCONQ

Megapro is an Architect, soccer coach, soccer statistician, youth club owner and blogger. You can mail him at megapro24@gmail.com
Re: 3 Years Of Stephen Keshi: Megapro’s Report Card by easyelliot(m): 10:44pm On Nov 04, 2014
OK I see 29 games
14 wins
9 draws
6 losses

Simple question, if he fails to win his remaining games should he be let go ?
Re: 3 Years Of Stephen Keshi: Megapro’s Report Card by Nobody: 6:47am On Nov 05, 2014
Not bad,considering the fact that we don't even have world class players

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