Two former coaches with the Nigerian football authority, Messrs Stephen Keshi have just died three days apart. Keshi at the age of 54 and Amodu at the age of 58.
The two men had some uncanny coincidence to their deaths. Neither was sick before they took the final breath. Keshi was said to have complained of pain on his knees and was dead on arrival at the hospital. Amodu also complained of chest pain and died in his sleep.
The two men were united in having troubled times with the fantastically corrupt men who run Nigerian football and were unceremoniously thrown out after serving their country with all their strength.
I met Amodu at the home of Dede Mabiaku in 2010 and for two hours dwelt on the rot in the house of stench that runs the Nigerian football and I am not surprised that long life is eluding guys who risked their lives working with those sharks.
When Keshi died, the Ghanaian FA decided to hoist its flag at half mast, a gesture we didn’t see from our own FA.
As we mourn the sudden deaths of these gentlemen, I dedicate to them a piece I did in 2010 on Nigerian and Ghanaian football:
“Ghana’s Shine Is Nigeria’s Shame”
“I commend Ghana for the enviable achievement of sailing to the quarterfinals of the ongoing World Cup in South Africa. Ghana has once again demonstrated the indomitable spirit of a people unleashing their potential under good governance and leadership and shamed its “big for nothing” neighbour (Nigeria) who crashed out of the mundial without winning a match.
Ghana’s feat has thrown up all that is right with that country and all that is wrong with Nigeria. Few years ago, a sports minister in Ghana was sacked and sent to jail over missing $10,000 but nobody has been brought to book for about £400,000 which grew wind inside the lockers of the secretariat of the Nigerian Football Association.
Just a few weeks to the World Cup, Nigeria sacked the coach that qualified it for World Cup and hired a coach who failed to qualify his own country for the mundial. While Shuaibu Amodu had to address press conferences over unpaid arrears of salaries alleged to be half of what he signed, Mr. Lagerback was paid $9m upfront for his six-month contract. It was clear to all discerning that Nigeria’s problem all along was not the coach but the Nigerian disease that has eaten deep into every fabric of the Nigerian society.
For the Nigerian officials, football is all about making money for themselves and not bringing glory to their country; this may explain why they allegedly hired a plane they knew would not fly to take the team to South Africa only for the Federal Government to pay for a new one at the last minute.
We are yet to hear of anybody being brought to book for this scandal. Upon it all, we had four years to prepare for the World Cup and did nothing in terms of serious preparations and our people out of unbridled passion sat in front of TV sets singing, “He is a miracle working God…” No, God does not engage in silly miracles.
Nigeria has crashed out because we failed to do the needful and yet we expected to reap where we did not sow. Unlike us, Ghanaians have fixed their country and everything is working out for them. The country did not need to have 64 senators in South Africa in order to excel. Nigerians must use their passion for soccer to demand for good leaders who emerge through credible elections. The coming election provides the opportunity to do all that as it must be clear to all now that we cannot excel in any sphere as long as we reel under the suffocating weight of corruption that is the hallmark of unelected leaders. Until we do that, our agony continues. Let us not steal Ghana’s victory by claiming it as “Africa’s victory”. No, it is a victory for a Ghana that has embraced best practice in its affairs.”