Former spokesman of the Eagles and one time international, Idah Peterside, has advised Stephen Keshi not to rely on the local players, saying that they lacked the experience to shoulder the weight of national team.
Idah’s position has strongly been condemned by chairman of Warri Wolves, Godwin Abigor, a keen follower of the national team and global football.
“I’m reacting because Keshi may be confused by the likes of Idah Peterside. Idah has been living in South Africa for long and he has lost touch with the realities on ground,” Abigor said. He was reacting to Idah’s comment on Supersport’s popular programme, Soccer Africa.
Abigor continued: “The best thing that has happened to our football in recent times is Keshi’s attention on the domestic league. The players he has discovered there have not failed. He has used more of them in the defence in the three competitive matches he has played and they did well. I doubt if Keshi would have survived by now if he were to rely only on the foreign-based players. The domestic league of all countries that are strong in football is strong.
“Look at Spain, Brazil, Germany, Italy, Portugal etc. Their leagues are strong. Even in Africa here, it is the same. Ghana bounced back when their league improved. Tunisia, Egypt and some other good countries have strong leagues although some political problems are affecting Egypt’s football now. We are talking about general development of football. The focus on our domestic league by Keshi will improve our league and football in general. We all need to encourage Keshi.
“Clemens Westerhof came and faced our league. Our football which was down before he came sprung up, although it took him time. He discovered many players who later moved to Europe and they made our football thick. Keshi saw it all with Westerhof. Anytime he came back from Europe to play, he played with many local players like Thompson Oliha, Moses Kpakor, Abdul Sule, Precious Monye etc.
They were winning matches. Westerhof left and since then all coaches that came after him looked the other way. They focused only in Europe and the crash started. It has been a deep plunge since then. For the first time since Westerhof left in 1994 somebody is trying to address the problem and some people want to drag him back. It’s painful that we are very forgetful. Nobody is saying that Keshi should shut the door on the players in Europe.
“We are saying that many players at home have what it takes to play for Eagles. They have the strong character and should be given the chance based on merit. If we don’t have a strong league our football will not grow. And one of the things that will develop our league is what Keshi is doing. He should be encouraged and not discouraged. Peterside may not be current with the realities at home and must not confuse Keshi.”