VETERAN sports administrator and commentator Pa John Ojido is wishing Stephen Keshi and the Eagles well, hoping that Keshi would later be listed among the great coaches of Nigeria. Ojido spoke at length this way:
“Three coaches have stood out in Nigeria in the past 20 to 25 years. They are Clemens Westerhof, Phillip Troussier and Shaibu Amodu. Westerhof changed our football.
He won our first Nations Cup outside our shores in Tunisia in 1994, qualified us for our first World Cup finals among other things like one Nations Cup silver and one bronze.
But he did more by developing our players. Phillip Troussier qualified us for France ’98 World Cup and he was playing good matches.
But then sports minister Chief Jim Nwobodo plotted his removal on the grounds that he was not a world class coach.
It was naïve and painful. Westerhof did a lot here. Was he a world class coach before he came? So many people have destroyed our sports with poor decisions. I felt bad when they sacked Troussier.
After Troussier, the next coach that did well for Nigeria as far as the records show is Amodu. He qualified Nigeria for two World Cups and also won bronze medal at the Mali Nations Cup.
Interestingly, Keshi was his assistant in Mali and when they qualified for the 2002 World Cup. I hope that Keshi joins this list.
He is doing well and should be given a chance to continue the good work. He is at the Nations Cup with six local players, the first time such a thing was happening in about 20 years.
I commend him. Our football is down and somebody has to build it. That’s what Keshi is doing now.”
Ojido spoke passionately on track and field, sports administration and other issues from Illah, near Asaba. We’ll serve you the juicy interview he granted from his sick bed.
The body was weak but his brain was as sharp as ever. He will be 87 years in June.