Posted by By John Egbokhan on
Former captain of the Super Eagles, Stephen Keshi has insisted that qualifying the Togolese Hawks for the 2006 World Cup in Germany does not make him a fulfilled person.
Former captain of the Super Eagles, Stephen Keshi has insisted that qualifying the Togolese Hawks for the 2006 World Cup in Germany does not make him a fulfilled person. “Fulfilled? That I qualified Togo for the World Cup? No I do not feel fulfilled because as a professional, I had a job to do which I did. That I qualified Togo for the World Cup was a case of a professional who must achieve set results, especially when the support was there”, said Keshi.
He spoke with Sports Vanguard at the National Stadium in Lagos shortly after addressing a horde of journalists. He was guest of Lagos SWAN. Keshi said that the tremendous unity among Togolese, gingered the team to secure their first World Cup appearance. He appreciates the high regards Nigerians have for him and insists that Togo cannot match Nigeria in terms of talent.
His revelation would interest Nigerians. “There are many players in Nigerian local league that are better than the players we used in qualifying for the World Cup in Togo. But Nigeria lacks the organisation and commitment Togo has. In Togo, we have two or three people taking decisions. In Nigeria you have a bogus NFA with up to 20 members going here and there and eventually not doing anything effective. These are the issues. The players who should qualify Nigeria to the World Cup with ease are here. That’s I’ll continue to say that officials blew it for Nigeria ”
Keshi, who alongside Shuaibu Amodu, qualified the Super Eagles for the 2002 World Cup in Korea and Japan, also revealed how Togolese fasted and prayed for 21 days before the final qualifier against Congo in Brazaville. He doubted if such a thing can happen in Nigeria.
He also talked about how the underdog tag which his team was dubbed, spurred them to qualify for the World Cup, against all odds, in a group comprising Senegal, Mali, Zambia and Congo.
“In Togo, the people were united and backed the team to success and maybe, its because it is a small country. In Nigeria, I doubt if such a thing can happen. Although my players were dedicated, we had a huge and total support from the Togolese who a day before any match, would wear any yellow cloth, the colour of the national team jersey, to their working places and schools.
“Although nobody tipped us to qualify, we were determined to prove them wrong and if you have dedicated players, who are well motivated, you can achieve any thing. The people of Togo also made a lot of difference because they even went as far as praying and fasting for days before any World Cup match.
“Such things are not common and we felt we owed them World Cup ticket. But even qualifying for the World Cup, was not going to be easy and we knew it and that was how we had to rely on the support of the people, including the President, who I can talk to any time when we have any problem. It was like what happened when Westerhof, was coach of the Super Eagles and had easy assess to the Presidency.
“For a team to succeed, you do not need more than two administrators and that really worked for Togo because we did not have to meet this or that football official to get things done”, added Keshi.
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