Keshi Has Begun To Overstep His Boundaries – Obanya

KeshiSports journalist, Nnamdi Obanya, believes that the reinstatement of Stephen Keshi as the Coach of the Super Eagles, makes Nigeria’s football and general sports administration look like a joke in the eyes of the world.

“You sacked a coach, the person whom you brought to replace him made an appeal to bring back the person he’s replacing.

“We also have words that Giwa, as one of the conditions for withdrawing his petition, said that Keshi must be brought back, whereas the new NFF board, the Amaju Pinnick board, had said they were going to look into getting somebody else,” he said, while condemning the seemingly inconsistent management of the country’s football.

He said that the whole problem started because of “orders from above which FIFA did not approve of”.

In reaction to the argument that the appeal by Coach Shaibu Amodu for the reinstatement of Keshi was logical because of the time constraint he had to make much impact on the team, Obanya said that the appeal would have made more sense if it was made immediately after his appointment as the interim coach and not two weeks after.

“The problem now is that Keshi has begun to overstep his boundaries. For example, Coordinator of Footballing Affairs, Emmanuel Attah, was replaced with Garba Lawal, and Keshi came back and said he can’t wok with him, he has to go.

“Yes Garba Lawal has been a critic of Keshi but I don’t think its Keshi’s place to decide. The same thing with the Media Officer; Ben Alaiya has been replaced by Toyin Ibitoye and that too has been reversed.

“Keshi has left the realm of building the team, getting the boys ready for matches, deciding on what fitness regimes to use and what tactics and is now dabbling into things that are beyond him. Then you begin to sense that perhaps he knows he has more authority than he should have.

“Its just funny because all these mess started because of ‘orders from above’ and we are back here again,” he said.

He wondered if Keshi would be retained if Nigeria gets lucky to qualify for the Nations’ Cup after the two AFCON qualifying matches, for which he was reinstated, are played.

Obanya predicts the start of another round of problems. “The drama is just beginning, this is just a tip of the iceberg.”

Mr Obanya was a Thursday guest of the award winning breakfast programme, Sunrise Daily, on Channels Television.


NFF Congress: Candidates Are Offering N3 Million Bribe For Votes – Sports Journalist

Nnamdi_ObanyaA sports journalist, Mr Nnamdi Obanya on Tuesday said candidates running for positions on the board of the Nigerian Football Federation (NFF) are reported to be offering between N2 to N3 million bribes to candidates that will vote for them during the congress.

Mr Obanya said “we are hearing all sorts, some we want to believe and some we don’t want to believe” adding that “delegates are being offered between N2 to N3 million to vote for certain candidates”, he said on Sunrise Daily.

He further noted that those trying to use a court injunction to stop the NFF elections that “a Federal High Court, an Appeal Court, a State High Court or a Magistrate Court don’t have any jurisdiction over the NFF” insisting that “only the Court of Arbitration for Sports (CAS) has any jurisdiction over the NFF.

“The NFF is under CAF, which is under FIFA and it is a federation. And by your constitutional right, and freedom of association, you cannot stop anybody from a holding a congress within the constitution of the association and that is what NFF is doing”, maintaining that “it is as simple as that”.

He further noted that “there has been no criminal activity, which is the only reason you can call for such injunctions and the likes”.
He accused ‘some people’ of trying to test their importance at the NFF, adding that “security agents again tried to pick up (Aminu) Maigari, but this time he was able to find his way out”.

He added that despite ‘tough talks’ by (Taiwo) Ogunjobi and (Amanze) Uchegbulam, “it looks like it is a straight fight between (Shehu) Dikko and (Amaju) Pinnick; they seem to be the two front runners; they seem to be the two candidates that most people think will win the election”.

He also expressed hope that the “palpable tension in Warri now will not translate into something else when the time comes”.

Already, representatives of the world football governing body, FIFA, and the Confederation of African Football (CAF), led by Ghana’s Football Federation (GFA) President, Kwesi Nyantaki, have arrived in Warri for the elective congress.

Among the candidates vying to replace outgoing NFF president, Aminu Maigari, are Amaju Pinnick from Delta State, Amanze Uchegbulam from Imo State, Taiwo Ogunjobi (Osun), Shehu Dikko (Kaduna) and Dominic Iorfa from Benue State.

Others are incumbent first vice president, Mike Umeh (Anambra) and Abba Yola (Kano State).

Candidates for the first vice president position are Emeka Inyama (Imo), Seyi Akinwunmi (Lagos State), Adamu Shehu (Kaduna) and Suleyman Muazu from Sokoto State.

The delegates will also elect zonal representatives on the board.

NFF Crisis: Giwa May Fall – Obanya

NFFA Sport Analyst, Nnamdi Obanya, on Friday opined that Chris Giwa might fall out of favour as the President of the Nigeria  Football Federation (NFF), as public sympathy is not with him.

Speaking on Channels Television’s Programme, Sunrise Daily, Obanya said that the federation bodies would not want to associate their ballot with Chris Giwa, explaining that the State Football Association  would want the  former NFF Secretary General, Taiwo Ogunjobi and Amanze Uchegbulam of their choice to run as president of the association.

Ahead of the Nigeria Football Federation Congress, scheduled for September 20, some candidates, especially those from the South-South and South-East zones have kicked against the choice of Warri in Delta State, by the electoral committee, demanding that the election should be shifted to a neutral venue.

Obanyo said that the congress rule stated that the congress could be held anywhere.

He noted that the congress could hold anywhere in the country, refuting calls by the candidates on the electoral committee and the NFF executive committee to prove their sincerity by moving the poll away from the Delta State capital.

“You can not have one place for the NFF Congress but everywhere. For them (the candidates) to now suddenly say that the people were trying to favour a candidate’, that is why the congress was taken to Warri, I do not think that is healthy but the truth is that the congress can hold anywhere in the country,” he said.

The NFF election has been mired in crisis recently after a faction voted Giwa as the president of the federation but the football governing body, Federation International Football Association (FIFA) brought sanity back after threatening twice to slam a ban on Nigeria’s football.

Super Eagles Will Not Have The Competitive Edge Over S/Africa Forever, Obanya Warns

NFFA sports journalist, Mr Nnamdi Obanya on Thursday warned that the Super Eagles will not have the competitive edge over the Bafana Bafana of South Africa forever.

Nigeria maintained their record of never losing nor conceding a goal against South Africa in a competitive match by forcing a 0-0 Cape Town stalemate.

Mr Obanya noted that “no matter how good South Africa’s form has been, they always find it difficult when they have to face Nigeria in a competitive game. But the truth is that this issue wont last forever”, adding that “we have managed to somehow keep escaping it”.

He however argued that Nigeria’s goalless draw with the South Africans in the 2015 African Cup of Nations Qualifier is a testament that those days may be coming to an end.

He said “last night was one of those days and I think in all honesty South Africa were just not as better as they thought they were” warning that “if they were any better they would have picked something off Nigeria”.

He noted that the Nigerian players were not cohesive during the match but agreed that “Igiebor started brightly in the middle and it allowed Onazi and Mikel to sit deep” but their South African counterparts were blocking most of their efforts.

“But because Mikel was sitting behind Onazi, he was able to receive deep balls and pick out passes”, he said.

He also praised the efforts of Ahmed Musa, Sone Aluko and Gbolahan Salami, who showed glimpses of what they do for their clubs on a weekly basis “into different channels whether very wide or narrow”.

He however noted that the South Africans later got a way around Mikel and closed in on him aggressively.

He clamoured for a change of combination by the national team handlers because we have seen changes win the Nations Cup before.

“I think we should start thinking of other combinations. We have other midfielders, whether we want to play a 4-4-2, 4-2-3-1. We really have to change it”, he insisted.

He added that “if we want to play a 4-2-3-1, we can bring in more attacking options then we can say we want just an Onazi and an Igiebor to sit; and Ogwu, he is tall, big and can sit deep without going anywhere.

“You have three players behind the lone striker, then you ca drop a Brown Ideye or an Emenike in a hole behind Salami” or vice versa, adding that “we have seen it work for us before; we won the Nations Cup with that format”, he maintained.

NFF Crisis: Giwa Shouldn’t Have Been On NFF Board At All – Obanya

NFFSports Journalist, Nnamdi Obanya, has expressed joy that Nigeria was able to escape the September 8 FIFA ban, but says the escape is only temporary as Nigeria’s football administration crisis has always been a recurring one.

He was a guest of Sunrise Daily on Channels Television on Tuesday.

He blamed the crisis on the selfishness of people involved in football administration who, he said, are only there to have their share of monies released by the Nigerian Government and the goodies from the football governing body FIFA especially during World Cup years.

He frowned at the different arguments being put up by parties involved in the struggle for the presidency of the NFF.

Obanya argued that Mr Chris Giwa should not have been in the NFF board at all considering he was the owner of one of the two clubs who could not meet the minimum requirement of running a club in Nigeria.

He said that he was only able to come on the NFF board because the LMC made some concessions to allow his club into the league. Therefore his argument of being the only private club owner on the board was not tenable.

Obanya noted that leadership would always be a problem in Nigerian football if the Federal Character that features in Nigerian politics continues to be adopted in football administration.

You cant tell me because we have a Northern President, then a South-South person must be Treasurer, deputy must be from the South-West…its part of the problem because we never choose on merit.”

He also aligned with the suggestion that Government should pull out of financing sports in Nigeria and in place of that, create favourable legislation that would encourage corporate organizations to want to invest in the sector.

Explaining that Sports should be run like any other business, which requires experts to identify and manage its products, he cited tax breaks as one of the incentives that could help investors and sponsors see the viability of sports business in Nigeria.

Speaking on Nigeria’s home loss to Congo in Calabar, Obanya blamed Super Eagles Coach, Stephen Keshi, for failing to find answers to the tactical approach of the Congolese players and the strategy adopted by their coach.

Maintaining his usual view of the Eagles Coach, he said that Keshi has always been tactically deficient and having to rely on his strength as a good motivator of men.

Unfortunately, however, he came up against a man who is also a good motivator of his men and in addition is tactically sound – the Congolese Team Coach, Claude Le Roy.

Obanya, however, believes that the Super Eagles’ next game away to South Africa was winnable.

Commonwealth Games: Nigeria Should Focus More On Women- Obanya

Nnamdi Obanya“The NFF should focus more on female athletes, their turnover and profit is higher and indices show that most of our medals come from women.”

Sports Journalist, Nnamdi Obanya, said this on Thursday, while discussing the Commonwealth Games, with Channels Television’s Chamberlain Usoh on Sunrise Daily.

Nnamdi, who disclosed that Nigeria could be said to be on and off the spotlight, explained that the glory days of Nigeria sports may be coming back after a long time.

On administration, he pointed out that athletes from Delta, perform better due to the orientation were the state government usually keeps the athletes in camp throughout the year. He advised that other states emulate them.

Despite the laudable performance of Nigerian athletes at the ongoing games, news of gold medalist, Chika Amalaha, failing a dope test and getting suspended, was a dampener.

On the dope test, Obanya berated the coaching crew for not doing internal test for athletes. He noted that there should be a central medical team with the Nigerian entourage to conduct regular tests for the athletes.

The most worrisome for Obanya was that there might be a culture of performance enhancing drugs especially in weight lifting among Nigerian athletes as the same thing happened in the last Olympics games,

He added that there might be a ban following Nigeria’s past history of repeat offenders.

Is Keshi Brave Enough To Drop Mikel? Obanya Asks

Mikel Obi“The Super Eagles (seem to) choose how to play depending on their opponents and the sight of Di Maria, Higuain and Messi made them raise their game on Wednesday, except for Mikel Obi.”

Sports Journalist, Nnamdi Obanya, said this on Thursday in a conversation with Channels Television’s Chamberlain Usoh on Sunrise Daily.

Providing a post-mortem of Nigeria’s last group game versus Argentina at the World Cup which ended in a 3-2 loss, Obanya said that despite the Eagles’ shaky start in the game they did well by responding quickly to Argentina’s goals.

With Nigeria having qualified for the second round despite the loss, his only fear, however, is if the Super Eagles would be able to repeat the same impressive performance against France because in the Argentina match “there were fortunate moments for us (although) there were unfortunate moments for us (as well).”

He opined that the two goals scored by Ahmed Musa were down to his personal instinct and not necessarily products of the team’ s strategy.

He explained that the team’s coach, Stephen Keshi, usually places Musa on the right but “because of the counter attack and the way it happened, Musa instinctively ran into the left channels which is his (desired) space and credit must go to Emenike and Babatunde for the assists on those goals.”

Speaking further, he said: “Mikel once again did not show up to the party, it’s not enough to play 2 inch passes to the left or to the right or to the player nearest to you.”

Analysing the goals scored by the Argentinians, Obanya said that the Eagles must work on their technical disciple as regards defending set pieces because the lapses could be costly as the second round match against France beckons. However, Obanya cautiously expressed belief that Nigeria could beat the French, “not because Nigeria is so good but because France have their own personal self-destruct buttons.”

Obanya referred to game between France and Ecuador and the inability of the French team to take their chances and take advantage of the Ecuadorians being one man down for a massive period in the game.

He added that Nigeria must not be too happy, however, as the French Coach has said that his team would fight in their next game, obviously upset at the outcome of the last group game in which they played a frustrating scoreless draw.

Making suggestions on how to stop France, Obanya posited that the full backs would have to help in attack but must master the art of tracking back to defend when they lose the ball, as in the Argentina game, both Ambrose Efe and Juwon Oshaniwa got caught out a number of times; again he put the blame on Mikel Obi.

“The reason you have holding midfielders is that when your wing backs go forward, your holding midfielder should drop in-between your two centre-backs, allow them to spread and give your fullbacks time to come back. Now you have a standing 3-man defence at least to cope with whatever is coming.

“If Mikel is going to be so static and sit just in front of the defence, and Onazi has to be the water carrier in the midfield, it means that when there’s an attack, Mikel needs to come back and sit but he’s not marking, he’s not going forward.”

Chamberlain drew attention to the attacking forays of Mikel in the recent games but Obanya believes that “he gets lost just before the final third.”

“As a number 10 or a playmaker, your job is to get in that role and play triangles between the wide man and the striker, so that whoever is the third person in the three behind the striker can act as a second runner into the box or can also hover around.

“(And) If you’re going to sit so deep as a Pirlo, you had better have perfect passes and you have to help out the defence. If you’re not going to sit between the defence when Nigeria is being attacked then it does not pay Nigeria to have you sit in so deep; against France, we can’t afford that.

“I’ve been asking, is Keshi brave enough to drop Mikel?” Obanya said, naming Michael Babatunde as the possible option to come into the number 10 role and let Onazi sit.

Babatunde’s injury in the game against Argentina, however, seemed to have put an end to the role of the midfielder in the 2014 World Cup after being hit by a shot from his teammate, Ogenyi Onazi; an incident Obanya blamed on the non-tactical but more physical nature of the Eagles’ training.

“You’re going to need as much mobility against France; I’m not sure Mikel is that mobile”, Obanya said.

He also suggested the return of Victor Moses to the team as he could be deployed as an attacking midfielder. He noted, “Some players need to be given that liberty to roam.”

Super Eagles’ Divisions Should Not Be Seen On The Pitch – Obanya

Super Eagles Brazil2014Sports journalist, Nnamdi Obanya, believes that divisions are normal in national teams but should not be an excuse for Nigeria’s Super Eagles to fail at the World Cup.

During an interview on Channels Television’s Sunrise Daily, he disclosed that the reported division in the national team camp had started earlier with news filtering about a purported bust-up between striker, Emanuel Emenike and midfielder, Mikel Obi, which the team later denied.

While admitting that factions are meant to always exist in a national team, he expressed worry that while Nigeria was facing its usual problem of division, the Bosnian Coach had disclosed that he was banking on the friendship and cohesion of his players to soar above the Super Eagles in their second group game on Saturday.

The most worrisome for Obanya was that the disunity of the Nigerian team could be seen on the pitch as they lacked cohesion and “there was no respect for anybody as a leader on the pitch”.

“Enyeama is at the post and he doesn’t have the ball at his feet, but there’s nobody the players look up to. Clearly you could see the Iranians were looking up to Dejagah, Pjanic is going to have the same role for Bosnia, but Nigeria has no leader.”

Mikel Obi would naturally come to the mind of many football followers as a leader who could dictate the pace of the game with his ball distribution but Obanya noted that spreading passes was not enough but the need to spread effective passes and not long balls to a player who is easily isolated without offering any form of support.

Obanya also berated the coaching crew of the team for the lack of tactical inputs as evident in the manner the team defended set paces and the quality of passes delivered to strikers like Shola Ameobi, whom he admitted did well enough with his positioning in the game against Iran.

The Super Eagles risk elimination from the tournament as they face Bosnia and Herzegovina on Saturday in their second group game, after only managing to get a goalless draw against the expected whipping boys of the group, Iran.

Del Bosque Must Take The Blame For Spain’s Exit – Obanya

Del bosqueSports Journalist, Nnamdi Obanya, admits that the exit of world champions, Spain in the first round of the World Cup had become a trend but not an excuse for a talented team.

Speaking on Channels Television, Obanya said that the older generation of the Spanish team had been pushed to remain in the squad for too long when their bodies could no longer cope at the highest level.

He explained that Chile’s first goal sums up the sad story of Spain, with 3 defenders escorting 2 Chilean attackers all the way to their own goal territory and eventually allowing the goal.

On the view that the “tiki-taka” style of play having been found out by other teams could be the reason for Spain’s failure, Obanya said that the style had always been what the team was built around.

He noted that as much as the likes of Ramos and Torres – who aren’t Barcelona players – may want to ditch the tiki-taka style of play, the engine room of the team has been tiki-taka and they do not have a choice.

He blamed the Spanish Coach, Vicente Del Bosque for failing to inject younger players into his team for the tournament, as this has been the major reason they have failed.

He noted, however, that nothing should be taken away from the Chilean players as they had a lot of quality in their team. They, according to him, out-muscled Spain on every part of the pitch and ended up putting Iniesta under the pressure of trying to do too much.

Obanya also expressed satisfaction at the way Australia played against Holland. He noted that their attacking style against a good Dutch team was good for the tournament. He also had good words for the goal scored by Tim Cahill, refereeing to it as one of the best. “They should hold their heads high”, he said.

Obanya, however, had tough words for the Nigerian Super Eagles.

“Unlike Iran, Bosnia is more ruthless”, he said, wondering if Nigeria could handle the fire power of the Bosnians.

He, however, said that Nigeria has the habit of playing to the strength of their opponents, a statement which meant they could up their game against Bosnia.

He suggested that the best way for Nigeria to stop Bosnia was to get a physical midfielder to break up the Bosnian attack and also one who could play behind the striker, Emmanuel Emenike, to knock down services for him.

Obanya also wants to see Osaze Odemwingie starting the next match with Ramon Azeez benched as he lacked the physicality needed against the tall and bullish Bosnians.

On allegations that Osaze did not play to instructions given by Coach Stephen Keshi in the first game, Obanya asked “What instruction?”


World Cup Opening Ceremony Was Flat – Analyst

Nnamdi Obanya,Nigerian Sports Journalist, Nnamdi Obanya, believes that the Brazil World Cup Opening Ceremony was bright, colourful but boring.

He was a guest on Channels Television where he spoke about the mundial less than 24 hours after it kicked off at the Arena Corinthians in Sao Paulo.

He cited several factors that created the view that this was not a befitting opening for the competition of such magnitude. He said that while the theme song had failed to impress, the sound problem experienced during the performance also added to his disappointment.

“It was Brazil, we expected all the capoeira, and carnival atmosphere…It was a very flat opening ceremony.

“South Africa’s Opening Ceremony made this look like a high school play. It was fantastic and this was flat”, he said.

The compensation for him, however, was that immediately after the ceremony, “the real fireworks” started with the hosts, Brazil defeating Croatia in an exciting and tense opening match.

The Real Super Eagles

Obanya also responded to Nigerian Attacker, Ahmed Musa, who was quoted in the dailies to have promised that Nigerians would see the real Super Eagles when the competition starts in Brazil.

“They are just saying the right things. We’ve had Emenike and Mikel fight, we’ve heard that Ahmed Musa is not fit to play, there is a lot of news coming that is not too good.

“Perhaps they’re trying to keep their spirit up. They are doing the right thing and saying the right things, if they can translate that unto the pitch, all good for them, but we will wait and see if the real Super Eagles as they claim would show up.”

Obanya, who admitted that he had always maintained blind loyalty towards Nigeria, noted that if he would be analytical and pensive, he was really worried.

He also confirmed the unavailability the team’s regular left-back, Elderson Echiejile, whom he said had already been replaced by Ejike Uzoenyi, who has already landed in Brazil and taken over the number 3 jersey vacated by Echiejile after the injury that ruled him out of the competition.

“Realistically, we can qualify from the group; we’ll most likely qualify second behind Argentina and we’ll be immediately thrown up against France. That’s a free scoring, very fast and young France. I haven’t seen France this agile since France 98”, he feared.

Obanya also provided expert analysis of the opening match between Brazil and Croatia. He believes that while Croatia did well by taking the fight to Brazil, they played to the strength of the Brazilian defence.

He predicts a very difficult World Cup whose winner would be hard to predict as all past winners are present at the tournament and gunning for glory.

Sports Journalist Criticises Keshi’s World Cup List

vlcsnap-2014-06-04-11h20m26s59A sports journalist, Nnamdi Obanya has criticised Super Eagles coach, Stephen Keshi, for dropping some players from the squad that will represent Nigeria at the FIFA World Cup holding in Brazil in less than two weeks.

He gave kudos to the coach for retaining the defenders picked in the provisional squad but added quickly that he started having issues with the coach’s list when some players with impressive scorecard were dropped.

“The issues started when we started seeing some people being dropped, that I don’t think should have been dropped personally.”

“Where we have the problem is going forward. We are taking only four standard midfielders- Mikel Obi, Onazi, Gabriel and Ramon Azeez and trying to pass Uchebo as a midfielder, when his club clearly says he is a striker, doesn’t make sense to me,” he said.

Obanya asked why some players were unfairly dropped but also hailed the selection of some, he described as “calm heads”.

He also listed a few Nigerians that made their mark for their clubs in Nigeria and abroad that were not listed in the provisional squad and also flawed the formation employed by the Super Eagles during the goalless draw from the Greece friendly which was played earlier today in Philadelphia, U.S.A.

“Last night, Greece kept catching us, there was too much space between the full backs and the centre backs because the full backs are going forward to help.” He insisted that “Mike and Onazi were too central, while Musa and Moses were too far forward. “There is a gap that the full-backs need to fill,” he noted.

He warned that if the tactical flaws were not quickly rectified, Bosnia and Herzegovina forward, Edin Dzeko would be the beneficiary, as seen during the match with Ivory Coast, where the Ivoirians lost by two goals to one.

NFF Is Trying To Frustrate The Environment For Keshi

Nnamdi Obanya,Sports Analyst, Nnamdi Obanya, believes that the allegations made against Super Eagles Coach, Stephen Keshi, might just be moves by the Nigeria Football Federation to frustrate the environment in order to justify its desire to hire a foreign coach.

Obanya, who was speaking on Sunrise Daily on Channels Television acknowledged an earlier statement by the NFF that they had no plans to sack Keshi, but they had also been found out planning to bring in a foreign coach to “assist Keshi”.

He further validated his suspicion of a frustration game by the NFF by highlighting the inconsistency in their decision to hire a foreign coach when they had just sacked one of Keshi’s assistants, Sylvanus Okpala, owing to lack of funding to accommodate more wages for the technical crew.

Keshi has insisted that he needs Okapla back in his team and has complained that the NFF has been sitting on his request, with Okpala also having taken the NFF to the Court of Arbitration for Sports.

Obanya stated that the queries and public statements are being made about minor issues, explaining that issues concerning the details of Keshi’s leave approval and itinerary should have been an internal query and not one for the pages of the newspapers.

He believes that getting all these issues into the media might be a deliberate attempt by the Federation to make Keshi look bad, also noting that the tones of communication from the NFF lately have been showing a level of hostility.

He particularly berated the NFF for saying the coach was not solely responsible for his own team selection and going further by asking him to come and defend his selection of players. “I think a coach is meant to present his list and not defend it”, he said.

Obanya revealed that a source had said that Super Eagles striker; Ikechukwu Uche had been frozen out of the Super Eagles as payback.  The source, according to him alleged that Uche was one of the players used by the NFF to complain about Coach Keshi’s tactics as a way of casting doubts on his capacity and consequently justifying his removal after AFCON.

He noted that the NFF does not really know their role and are therefore focusing on other people’s jobs. He said that if they knew their own jobs, few months to the World Cup, Nigeria should have had proper marketing, branding, travel arrangements and other things in place, instead of disturbing Keshi.

He also mentioned the issue of TV Rights, explaining that a situation where the Nigerian national team is playing a friendly game abroad and Nigerians have to search all over the web for different sites that would stream matches showed that the NFF was not doing its job.