Lessons from Keshi success
Congratulations to the Nigerian Super Eagles for winning the 29th edition of the Africa Cup of Nations. Let me also take this opportunity to give credit not only to their coach Stephen Keshi, but the players who did it as they say, for themselves and their fatherland.
I was also proud of the selfless leadership provided to the Malian team by veteran Seydou Keita. In fact, countless players stood out for me and let me also praise the likes of Jonathan Pitriopa, Mubarak Wakasu, Aristide Bance as well as Victor Moses and Mikel John Obi to mention just a few.
The leadership of African football need to take a critical look at what Keshi has achieved and ask themselves why, despite constant reminders about the ability of locals, do we still fail to take pride in our own products but continue to scour the backstreets of Europe in our desperate attempts recruit “fong kong” coaches to take charge of our national teams?
Why do we continue to marginalize indigenous coaches, deny them material support but are always prepared to pay obscene amounts of money to expatriate coaches, some of whom refuse to live in our countries and prefer to stay in Europe, only coming to Africa during the week that there is an official fixture looming?
The same coaches seem to resent living conditions in Africa, yet find nothing wrong in the color of the money they get paid by Africans. There is an exception though, and men like Claude Le Roy, Clemens Westerhof and Herve Renard have roughed it up in the respective countries they are working and have earned our respect.
But we members of the fourth estate are equally to blame for this mess. We tend to put undue pressure on local coaches, refuse to give them the respect and credit they deserve and always hammer them at the slightest opportunity and are the first to demand the hiring of a “foreign” coach.
Ghana has won the tournament a respectable four times and on each occasion, they were guided by an indigenous coach. They came very close this time around with Kwesi Appiah at the helm, but despite finishing fourth, I understand my colleagues down in Accra are already calling for his sacking!
Are we ashamed of our own? Why do we always find it so difficult to embrace our own countrymen but instead try to find fault with everything they try to do simply because we know them and grew up together in the same ‘hood?
Are we envious of what they have achieved while we still occupy the same positions at our respective places of employment where we are even considered as part of the furniture? And now we are consumed by resentment of our inability to ascend the ladder of life and therefore take it out on those that seem to be succeeding?
Is our obsession with European coaches as Keshi is asking, perhaps a reflection of our own state of mind and inferiority complex? Why is it then, that we would rather entrust the fortunes of our national team to an untried and untested European coach without any knowledge of Africa, than to a local coach?
If you think I am being a unfair to federations across the continent, then watch as local coaches qualify their respective countries for the Fifa World Cup in Brazil next year and then get fired or sidelined because they “are too inexperienced” to lead their country at a tournament like the World Cup.
I am willing to take a bet that at the end of the World Cup qualifying campaign, there will be countless so-called big name European coaches waiting on the wings to take over positions as coaches of us “gullible” Africans where they will be paid millions just for a four weeks job.
Of course, indigenous coaches are not angels either. And we have heard of shameful stories of favoritism as well as how they collude with football agents that “instruct” them to select certain players and they are guaranteed kickbacks for playing along.
It’s such a vicious circle; it breaks my heart that we never seem to learn. And perhaps that is why it will take us maybe a century to win the World Cup. Brazil has won the World Cup more than any other nation, check the nationalities of the coaches that were in charge and tell me if I am talking through my hat!
I hope Nigeria and the rest of Africa will show a little more trust and respect to the likes of Keshi and his deputy Daniel Amokachi especially now that they have proved that if they are left alone to do what they know best, they can deliver.