Super Eagles Head Coach, Stephen Keshi was not a happy man after his team’s 2-2 draw with the Lone Stars of Liberia in a 2013 Africa Nations Cup qualifier against the host team in Monrovia on Saturday and bluntly blamed the team’s first choice in goal, Vincent Enyeama for conceding what he called “cheap goals” in a match the Nigerian team could have won convincingly.
SportingLife gathered exclusively from Nigeria Football Federation (NFF) sources that the coach had expected much from the Assistant Captain of the team (Enyeama) who failed to rise up to the occasion in the match and faltered towards the latter stage of the match, just like it also happened in the Eagles’ match against Malawi in the 2014 World Cup qualifiers not too long ago.
“Let me tell you the Chief Coach is not happy at all with the way the two goals were scored. These kinds of goals couldn’t have beaten Enyeama at his best which the coach told him after the match. What makes it very painful to the coach is that he and the goalkeeper trainer, Ike Shorunmu dwelled on this aspect and Ike worked on him in the training sessions on this area. So the Chief Coach was disappointed that the mistake was still made by the goalkeeper in the match, a repeat of what happened against Malawi which is rushing out of his goal post and mistiming”, the source disclosed.
The source also revealed that Keshi also tongue-lashed Ike Uche and asked him to sit up. “Keshi was also not too happy with the way top striker Ikechukwu Uche frittered away begging chances in the match. Uche failed to convert two sitters in the match which was unlike him.
“The Coach is, however, happy with the performance of Emmanuel Emenike and Victor Moses despite not scoring in the match”, another influential team source told SportingLife yesterday.
The source also disclosed that Keshi has warned sternly that any player that refused to improve and contribute positively to the advancement of the team and helping the team to book the all-important Africa Nations Cup and World Cup tickets should forget about getting a call up to the team.
Speaking in same vein, five players of the team, who spoke to SportingLife on condition of anonymity, vented their spleen on Enyeama and expressed disappointment on the performance of Ikechukwu Uche too in the match.
“This is a match we would have wrapped up and come back home smiling. To be honest we were supposed to win this match by 5-2 and not even thinking of drawing it 2-2. We just don’t know how on earth Enyeama could concede these kind of very cheap goals. I am not happy at all”, a defender said.
Another player, a forward lashed out at Uche. “Ike is experienced enough not to miss these kinds of opportunities. I don’t see myself missing these chances at goal. God forbid bad thing. But we thank God that we still have a chance at home here in Nigeria to correct these lapses. Me I want to go to South Africa o”, the player declared.
The third player, a defender blamed the entire team for not achieving the needed victory. “I think all of us should be blamed for not winning this match. It was within our reach but we threw it away. If we had won everybody should have been happy and share in the victory. So, let us not blame any player but we should concentrate on winning the second leg match convincingly here in Nigeria next month”, he stated.
Dynamo Kyiv on-form striker, Brown Ideye was hostile to the SportingLife reporter when the latter approached him for his reaction on the match. He angrily moved away and entered the waiting cab that was conveying him to the Nnamdi Azikiwe Airport yesterday. Three other foreign-based players that SportingLife tried to speak with also declined. “Bros, we are sorry we can’t speak on this match now”, two of them chorused at the team’s Bolton White Apartment Camp of the team.
- The Nation