After a long battle between him and his employers the Nigeria Football Federation (NFF) over the renewal of his contract Super Eagles coach Stephen Keshi eventually got the nod to pilot the Nigerian national team.
Although his second coming has as expected elicited reactions from the public with some applauding his return while others are kicking against it the fact remains that the former Eagles skipper is now back in charge of team.
With divided views trailing his re-engagement, here are some important issues the former Anderlecht of Belgium Libero must consider as he settles down for business with the three time African champions.
Better Player Management
In his first stint in charge, Stephen Keshi lost a part of his dressing room because of the way and manner he handled the issues concerning Ike Uche and Osaze Odemwingie.
For someone with such exposure and experience, Keshi cannot afford to be caught up in public rows with his star players. He should be able to be on the ball as regards how he relates with them so as to get the best out of them at all times.
He has to know when to use the carrot and when to use the stick and how he should go about doing that.
Respect His Employers
Keshi may be the ‘Big Boss’, but he has to bow to the authority of his employers, the Nigeria Football Federation (NFF) especially as it relates with administrative procedures.
The time when his top-shot friends dictate the proceedings is long gone and he has to now respect those he works for and by extension he has to also respect the ordinary Nigeria fan, who knows one or two things too about the game. He has to win back the confidence of the public, most of who have written him off on the back of his first stint.
Invitation of Players must be on Merit
Every single invitation to the national team must be on merit. Players must no longer use the Super Eagles as rehabilitation centre or shop window for big-money transfers as only those in form and playing regularly must represent Nigeria at all times.
Still in this respect, he has to improve his scouting network so as to discover fresh talent for the Eagles.
For instance, the home-based Eagles who represented the country at last year’s CHAN in South Africa were not a true reflection of the abundant talent in the domestic league and so he must now comb every corner of the country in search of special talent for his team.
Get His Tactics Right
Nigerians want to be proud of the national team who play a certain way with clear-cut tactics and not a team who often have to hang in on mother luck to get them through.
He has to have a good knowledge of the opposition and what tactics to use to beat them, rather than simply focus on his own team.
Return to the Classroom to Improve His Capacity
He may have been a great player and has worked as a coach overseas, but Keshi still has a lot to learn on the job and he must be open to take in all the new ideas through regular refresher courses abroad. Deliberate efforts have already been made by the NFF to enhance his expertise and he has to buy into this
Believe in Upcoming Players
Keshi has been known to hesitate in introducing young blood to his team as he has continued to rely on his tried and trusted troops even when they have failed to deliver.
He has to take a chance on some of the country’s youngsters like Flying Eagles skipper Musa Muhammed, Wilfred Ndidi, Taiwo Awoniyi, Kelechi Iheanacho, Isaac Success and Abduljaleel Ajagun by blooding them gradually into the main squad
Choice of Words Before the Media
When things fell apart with the Eagles, one section of the public that rose against him was the media. Like it was many other Nigerians, there was a sharp division between sport writers on the renewal of the coach’s contract.
The reason for this is not farfetched. Keshi on numerous occasions did not mind his choice of words whenever he was confronted by media men and this actually did not go down well with some journalists who argued that he was too arrogant especially after leading the Eagles to win the 2013 AFCON in South Africa.
Now that he is coming back,, Keshi will have to take it easy with the press, he should be ready to swallow criticism and to make it even easier maybe he should make it more work less talk.