20th November, 2014
Chief Coach of Nigeria’s Super Eagles, Stephen Keshi said he would take responsibility for Nigeria’s failure to play in next year’s Africa Cup of Nations in Equatorial Guinea after his team were held to a 2-2 draw in a match they needed an outright victory at the Akwa Ibom International Stadium, Uyo Wednesday night.
Keshi, who was reinstated to his post last month after he was first eased out by the Nigeria Football Federation (NFF), said that a coach must take full responsibility for the result of his team, adding that he has to accept the fate that befell the Eagles under his watch.
According to him, the absence of the Eagles to defend their AFCON title in the African tournament next year means that he has failed the country.
He noted that if a team fail, sacking of the coach won’t solve the problem, rather the authority should look beyond the coach to find solutions to the problem.
Keshi, however, blamed his players for taking South Africa lightly in a match they needed to win to qualify for the tournament proper.
“May be we took South Africa for granted and we paid dearly for this,” said the coach.
Scorer of Nigeria’s two goals on Wednesday Sone Aluko said the whole team are devastated by the failure to defend the crown they won in South Africa last year.
“I am disappointed, everybody is disappointed,” said Hull City forward Aluko.
“We did not get the result we wanted, and we now have to pick ourselves up as a team.”
Former Nigeria skipper Segun Odegbami said he has yet to recover from the shock and that South Africa, who have had a poor head-to-head record against Nigeria, must now be taken a lot more seriously.
“I’m numbed with shock we are not going to the Nations Cup,” he said.
“We have always taken South Africa for granted, believing we can take them for breakfast, lunch and dinner, but they have now shown us that this is an end of era.”
Meanwhile, the Nigeria Football Federation, NFF, released a statement early today, saying it has accepted full responsibility for the failure of the Eagles to reach next year’s Africa Cup of Nations finals in Equatorial Guinea.
President Amaju Pinnick stated that it was a time for sober reflection rather than trading of blames or looking for scapegoats.
“The NFF takes full responsibility for what has happened. It is a tragedy for us to come so near and yet fail to reach the finals.
“We made so much effort and sacrifice in Congo to achieve the victory we needed there on Saturday and really had no business bungling it here.
“ However, our commitment is to build a sustainable football culture in the country and nothing has changed. This is a disappointment but for us, we gave it our best shot and supported the team fully,” he said
Pinnick said Wednesday’s failure could turn out to be blessing in disguise, citing a biblical verse; Roman 8:28 to buttress his point.