by Olorunwa Lawal
Former manager of the Super Eagles, Clemens Westerhof, has called on the Nigerian Football Federation to renew Stephen Keshi’s contract.
Westerhof, who led Nigeria to the 1994 world cup in the USA, warned that failure to extend Keshi’s contract will spell doom for the team.
In an interview with sports newspaper, Complete Sports, Westerhof said, “I don’t know what’s happening, why have they not given Stephen Keshi a new contract, why, he did well in the first period and it’s okay for Nigeria for Keshi to continue his job.
“Keshi played under me when I was Super Eagles coach, he was a good team leader and he learned how to lead very well. He has put that in when he led the Super Eagles to win the Nations Cup last year and reach the World Cup second round.
“That was good enough; he has reached my record, but did not erase it, (laughs). So I don’t know what the problem is, why they don’t want to give him a new contract but if he goes, that will be too bad for Nigeria and the Super Eagles because no country or team leaves out its successful coach”, Westerhof cautioned.
The Dutchman admitted that although the Super Eagles had not done well in the two qualifying games played so far in the race for the 2015 African Cup of Nation (AFCON) in Morocco, he none-the-less stated that a settled mind will always produce excellent result.
“The Super Eagles can still go to Morocco if they can still come together and win the remaining matches. Keshi knows what to do, but it will be bad if the federation allows him to leave by not giving a new contract.
“If he goes, it will take a long time for the Super Eagles to be strong again, the new manager will take a long time to build a strong team again.”
Westerhof, who was the manager of the Nigerian national team from 1989-1994, is credited with turning Nigeria into a perennial powerhouse in world football.
He was responsible for what could be described as a “golden” period in Nigerian football. Players such as Jay-Jay Okocha, Sunday Oliseh, Nwankwo Kanu, Rashidi Yekini, Daniel Amokachi and others, who all went on to successful careers with various high-profile European clubs, entered the world spotlight while playing under Westerhof.