Former national coach Tunde Disu tells OLUFEMI ATOYEBI that the controversy surrounding selection of players by Super Eagles coach Steven Keshi has put a pressure on the team ahead of the Nations Cup
How will you describe the misunderstanding between Super Eagles coach Steen Keshi and Osaze Odemwingie?
It is distracting, unnecessary and unhealthy for Nigeria. I worked with Keshi many years ago and I know how he feels in situation like this. From his experience in the Togolese national team, I think he should have craftily avoided this situation.
The implication is that if he fails to win in South Africa, Nigerians will say that he caused it by engaging his player in battle of words when he should be thinking of how the team would do well. People would also say that he approached the competition with the wrong players.
Apart from dropping Osaze, there are other players like Taye Taiwo, Obafemi Martins and Kalu Uche who are not going to be in South Africa. Can Nigeria afford to do without the players?
I think the final selection is also bringing argument because you cannot satisfy every player. Victor Anichebe has a history of injury while Taiwo and Martins had a chance to impress Keshi. Maybe they did not do enough to be there. As for Osaze, there is discipline problem and I think he can manage the exclusion more maturely. He has a different mentality from normal Nigerian because he has a different background, but that should not be an excuse. But if Mikel can return to the team, Osaze could have done the same if he keeps his calm.
The players who are dropped are experienced but one major factor people are missing is that although we have a young team, the players have played together well enough and they have featured in big matches.
Ahmed Musa and Victor Moses are young but they have played in the Champions League and other big events. Mikel and most of the players in Keshiâ€™s team are in the same category, they have played together in friendly matches and by the time they finish the Faro camping, they will come out better. So I think we have enough cover for those who are not going.
What about the depth of the team?
That is an aspect we must consider. Keshi has a young team with lots of quality but sometimes, you need time to gain the required experience to win a championship like the Nations Cup.
Will it be too much to ask the team to win in South Africa?
No, if Zambia could do it, we should be able to do that. Cameroon will not be our worry now because they are not there. Ivory Coast is good but if we play as a team, we can stop them at any stage. To earn respect, we must start on a good note at the group stage.
Do you think Nigeria has a structure to develop younger players for future Eagles?
The National Sports Festival provides an opportunity to do it but we have overlooked its importance.
I was part of the technical structure that worked to ensure that Lagos State won the football event in the male and female categories.
It involved hard work and I saw fantastic young talents that are capable ruling the world. These players will join clubs in Nigeria and abroad but if we monitor their development and organise a way of bringing them together regularly, we have a good opportunity to respond to global trend in the sport.