KPAKOR BLASTS… EGUAVOEN, NFF CRUCIFIED SIASIA
The reality of Coach Samson Siasia's sack has come to stay with the appointment of the 'Big Boss' Stephen Okechukwu Keshi. But even when the majority of Nigerians are quick to put the blame of Nigeria's failure to qualify for the 2012 African Nations Cup on Siasia, former Nigerian and BCC Lions' midfielder, Moses Kpakor, has said that Nigerians were quick in crucifying him.
Though Kpakor maintains that the decision of the Nigeria Football Federation (NFF) to sack Siasia was entirely within its prerogative powers, he said the former Nigerian international was made to pay for the sins he never committed and was, therefore, made a scapegoat at the end of the day.
'Much as I celebrate the appointment of Keshi as Super Eagles' coach, I still believe that the NFF was not fair to Siasia in the way he was treated. Let's not forget that Siasia was not the one that started the campaign for the 2012 Nations Cup and that Nigeria was already in deficit before he took over the senior national team. What would they say were the bases of his evaluation before giving him the boot? If such were the case, Arsenal FC in the English Premiership would have long sacked Coach Arsene Wenger,' he argued.
Siasia, he said, was nowhere near the problem that led to his sack. But he suffered because the NFF refused to accept its fault of not preparing the national team well for the first leg encounter, when Austin Eguavoen led the Super Eagles to Conakry to play Guinea.
'We should remember that Nigeria was in the tick of crisis over an impending sanction from FIFA, and the team was not quite prepared given the uncertainty at the time. The team Eguavoen took to Conakry was not ready for the match and we lost 1-0 against Guinea. Siasia inherited that team with the deficit and won some matches, which gave Nigerians some false hope that Eagles were on track, but when things finally failed, Siasia was hanged.'
The Syli Stars of Guinea had beaten Nigeria 1-0 in a 2012 Nations Cup Group B qualifying match in Conakry, a development that throw the West African country into a massive victory party. The home team took an early lead and defended it till the end, meaning that Nigeria again left Guinea empty-handed, as the Eagles were yet to win a game in Conakry.
Esperance striker, Michael Eneramo, would have drawn Nigeria level late in the first half, but he missed a sitter to the amazement of his fellow teammates. Caretaker Coach, Eguavoen, tried to inject more force into the Eagles' strike force with his second-half introductions of John Owoeri and Ahmed Musa, but his tactics did not yield any positive result.
On the discipline that Siasia tried to bring into the Super Eagles, especially as regards to the big players, Kpakor said the NFF betrayed the Bayelsa State-born coach when he needed the backing of the football house on suspended players. 'Everywhere in the world, players get disciplined no matter their level. If Siasia had not disciplined Vincent Enyeama, Osaze Odemwingie and other players when they faulted, the NFF would still have blamed the coach,' he said.
Kpakor, who is currently running a degree programme at the Benue State University, however, expressed hope that Nigerian football would return to its glorious years sooner than later.