Super Eagles’ Chief Coach, Stephen Keshi, will not forget July 27, 2013 in a hurry because that was a day he broke another jinx in Nigeria’s football history. That day will ever remain fresh in his mind.
Keshi and his home-based Eagles survived a first half scare from the Elephants of Cote d’Ivoire in Abidjan as they eventually picked a first time ever ticket for the 2014 African Nations Championship, CHAN being their first appearance.
It would be recalled that the Nigerian local team had on two attempts failed to qualify for the tourney under two different coaches, but Keshi succeeded in breaking the jinx on Saturday adding another feather to his cap.
Breaking of jinx or setting of records is not new to the former skipper of the Super Eagles as he has recorded a number of feats in his playing and coaching career.
First of the feats recorded by the former Eagles of Mali coach was when he assisted Amodu Shuaibu to qualify the Super Eagles for the South Africa 2010 World Cup, but they were later relieved of their duties.
It was Swede’s Lars Lagerback, who eventually led the team to South Africa. Keshi was also the first coach to qualify the Hawks of Togo for their first ever World Cup appearance in Germany 2006.
Kasha was at the receiving end again when he succeeded in qualifying Togo for the Germany 2006 World Cup, but was deprived of featuring as the tournament as he was replaced by Germany’s Otto Pfizer.
Like the saying that ‘Quitters don’t win and winners don’t quit’, this appears to be Keshi’s slogan as he had stood the test of time since he was denied two World Cup appearances as a coach after he featured as a player for the Super Eagles at the USA ’94 edition.
Keshi’s name will also go down in history as one of the players and coaches to have won the African Cup of Nations, AFCON Keshi wrote his name in gold when he ended Nigeria’s 19 years wait to win the Nations Cup. After picking the CHAN 2014 ticket, Keshi will now seek to write his name in the history books by being the first coach to win the event and the AFCON even as Nigeria Football Federation, NFF, has promised him the best of preparations.
Nigeria at the weekend lost 0-2 to Cote d’Ivoire, but still qualified for their debut in the CHAN, which third edition holds in South Africa in January next year.
The NFF, which described the Eagles’ qualification for the first time in the championship as a land mark achievement, disclosed that the team’s early camping would give the players the opportunity to train together for a long time in order to blend and understand themselves better.
Speaking on plans for the CHAN, NFF President, Aminu Maigari assured that the federation would encourage the team to do well and replicate the main team’s feat of winning the last Nations Cup, adding that the federation would be happy if the home-based team won the 2014 CHAN at first appearance.
Maigari disclosed that the NFF technical committee would soon meet to, among other things, deliberate on the CHAN programme expected from Chief Coach, Stephen Keshi, and plan for early preparation.
“We are very happy with this landmark achievement of the Super Eagles. After failing to participate in the past two editions; we are taking part in CHAN for the first time. This is the first of its kind and the players understood the big passion Nigerians have about football.
“When this board came in place, we decided to do away with short time and medium time planning for the national teams. This is because we believe in putting the teams together for adequate blending and understanding of each other.
We are going to have everything in order to put the players in shape for the championship,” Maigari noted.