EX-INTERNATIONAL and former Assistant Coach of the Super Eagles, Joe Erico has thrashed plans by the Nigeria Football Federation (NFF) to, henceforth, vet Coach Stephen Keshi’s team list insisting that interference, in whatever guise, should never be condoned by the coach.
He has also frowned at the NFF’s President, Aminu Maigari’s condemnation of the inclusion of Nigerian domestic players to face Spain in their last group game a the 2013 Confederations Cup, which ended yesterday, saying it smacks of sheer lack of confidence in the local boys.
Maigari, in a recent interview had sensationally declared that Keshi will no longer be solely responsible for selecting the Super Eagles’ squad even as he queried his team selection during the “Festival of Champions.”
“The Confederations Cup is a big tournament and that’s why the other teams brought their best players…Spain brought their best players, but we did not. Why would you bring a local player to play Spain at such a big stage?
He continued, “this is unacceptable. We have experienced players that were not selected and this is where we have to step in. The coach should not have the sole responsibility on squad selection. We all have to make inputs. This team belongs to 165 million people. Selections should affect all these people so we cannot continue to let this happen because we need to compete well with others.”
Keshi, in a swift reaction said, “I understand Nigerians are emotive and sentimental sometimes but all the players that went to Brazil deserved to be there,” Keshi told BBC Sport.
“I’m the coach and I can honestly listen to constructive ideas on how we can improve as a team. But no one has come to tell me who to pick and not to select. If the team fails the coach is responsible. As the coach, it’s my decision and responsibility. For now, the local players have earned the rights to be in the team.”
Erico, who alongside Amodu Shaibu, qualified the Eagles for a World Cup, is totally in sync with Keshi and insists he should be allowed to do his work.
“The NFF must allow Keshi to do the job that they have hired him to do. If he fails, they should fire him after all this job is about hiring and firing. But I do not subscribe to taking dictation from anybody be he from NFF or anywhere,” the retired Nigerian goalkeeper stated.
“As a coach, I accept suggestions as long as the parties that are suggesting are with me on the training pitch, see what I see as the players train. But it is very annoying for you to sit in your office and want to change my team list no matter who you are. I will never accept that. They attempted that with me when I was at ACB Football Club and Iwuanyanwu Nationale and I had to walk away,” Erico stated.
He urged the NFF to adopt the standard practice, by allowing Keshi to do his work and fire him if they feel he has under delivered on his mandate.
On his condemnation of the inclusion of Nigerian domestic players to face Spain in the Confederation Cup, Erico said, “the complex displayed by Maigari stems from the management’s lack of confidence in the domestic league, which they administer. Keshi took those boys there because he has confidence in them after all he also came from the domestic league.”