Eagles not ripe to win World Cup in Brazil

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John FashanuFOOTBALL followers in the country expect Nigeria’s senior national team, the Super Eagles to follow in the footsteps of the U-17 team, the Golden Eaglets, which won last year’s FIFA U-17 World Cup, by winning the Brazil 2014 World Cup but Nigeria’s Soccer Ambassador, John Fashanu says though, the Eagles are good, they cannot win the mundial in Brazil.

The Eagles are appearing at the World Cup for the fifth time and are going to Brazil, where they were grouped alongside Argentina, Iran and Bosna Hesgovina in Group F, as African champions.

Speaking with Tribunesport in Bauchi, Fashanu declared that Super Eagles were going to have a good outing at the World Cup holding in June/July but were not good enough to claim the world’s most prestigious diadem for now.

The former Wimbledon FC striker stated that though the Eagles had achieved a perfect blend between local and international players, which was working favourably for the team, the best they could achieve in Brazil was to have an amazing championship.

“Now that we have the understanding, that the players have the experience of working together, I think this is going to be a good World Cup for us, but I don’t think we are going to win the World Cup,” the former Aston Villa player declared.

“Yes, what we are going to have is an amazing amount of new young stars who are going to come up and going to be bought around the world. This will be better for our players who are playing internationally and on the local scene. I think (Stephen) Keshi is going to lead a very good team.”

According to the ex-Norwich City player, though the Eagles could get to the quarter-final or the semi-final stage of the championship, which he said would be a “wonderful outing”.

He stated that a lot went into preparing and appearing at the World Cup, where he said old performances did not count but “it is who fields the best. The World Cup is one, how you play, how your players perform, can they perform at that standard?”

Speaking on Nigeria’s group foes in Brazil, the Ilesa, Osun State-born Fashanu stated that contrary to the fear of many football buffs, Argentina were not the greatest threat to the Super Eagles in the group but Iran.

“I will say Iran is a sleeping giant. That is the trouble; Argentina always obvious with their massive names, they still have great players but I still feel that we will do very well against Argentina. Iran is the sleeping dog.

“When Nigeria gets on the pitch against the big teams, we always do well; we always lift our games but when the Super Eagles go out to play against small teams like Kenya, South Africa that is when we have challenges.

Fashanu further told Tribunesport that coach Stephen Keshi, had been doing a great job since he took over saying that “no manager has been able to do what Keshi has been doing for many, many years.”

The 51-year-old former Millwall forward noted that despite what had been going around him, including lack of trust and support from his employers, non-payment of his salaries for some months, Keshi was still able to forge ahead and make Nigerian football followers happy once more.

“Stephen Keshi is doing a wonderful job. What is wonderful is that Keshi has been able to bring the international players and the local players and made them one. As an international player of 20 years; I played 2,000 matches and scored 500 goals, I know what it is for me to say that Keshi has hit the nail on the head as the right blend between the international and local players  is there and they are performing very, very well. That is why we are winning and winning. It is a real joy,” Fashanu said.

Meanwhile, the Sports Writers Association of Nigeria, (SWAN) Lagos chapter, has called on the Nigeria Football Federation, (NFF), and the Super Eagles coach, Stephen Keshi, to close ranks and uphold the spirit of teamwork in order to steady-foot Nigeria’s preparation for the Brazil 2014 World Cup.

The call by Lagos SWAN is in reaction to the ongoing conflict on the appointment of an assistant coach in addition to Daniel Amokachi and Ike Shorunmi to beef up the technical crew of the team.

SWAN in a statement signed by its chairman, Fred Edoreh, and secretary, Emma Njoku, said that “whereas Keshi is insisting on the reinstatement of Sylvanus Okpalla while the NFF is insisting that Okpalla remains sacked as a matter of disciplinary action for alleged insubordination, what is required is for both the bench and management to approach the matter with sobriety and not grandstanding.”

SWAN pointed out that the nation is disturbed about this discourse and how it will rub off on our World Cup campaign and urged the parties to listen to each other.

“We are informed that both Keshi and the NFF agree on the need for an assistant especially in the area of training. We are further assured that Keshi has been given liberty to seek the assistant, local or foreign, by himself but within the prisms of affordability and acceptability. The contention is whether the NFF should reverse itself on the issue of discipline with regards to Sylvanus Okpalla as Keshi is said to be insisting. We believe that the conflict can be resolved with a sense of mutual understanding and respect between employee and employer. We are in no doubt that the NFF would and should give Keshi all the necessary support to succeed but it is also crucial that the institutional authority and discipline within the organisation of the NFF be respected and maintained without which it will be condemned to a house corrosive disorder with potential ripples into other grades of our male and female national teams.

“We therefore advise both parties to understand each other and work out a common ground before it is too late and do not allow the issue to degenerate into a major distraction.”

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