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5 Lessons From Coach Keshi


Hearty congratulations to the Super Eagles for winning Nigeria a third African Cup of Nations trophy. It was no small feat since winning it the last time almost twenty years ago; Stephen Keshi, again being at the centre of ending a lull in Nigerian football. His meteoric rise to become the second African to win the Cup of Nations as a player, and then as a coach, was not without hiccups and lessons. In the end, Coach Keshi has triumphed and we have him and his team to thank for putting Nigeria on the world football map. Here are few lessons from Coach Keshi’s road to success that could help you achieve your own goals.

Believe you can:  In his press conference after winning the AFCON 2013, Coach Keshi revealed his utter belief in his team’s ability to win the tournament as a vital ingredient that played out in the Super Eagles victory over the Stallions of Burkina Faso. Henry Ford once said, ‘Whether you think you can or you think you can’t, either way, you are right.” Coach Keshi ‘s positive mental attitude played a role in ending a nineteen year trophy drought in top flight Nigerian football.

Deal with criticism tactfully:  Dealing with criticism tactfully is vital to your success. More often than not, criticism is not personal. It’s a sign that people do not understand you or your methods. A lot of new ideas have been fought with vehemence by people who did not understand them. Stephen King’s ability to deal with criticism of his first work, Curry, from prospective publishers eventually paid off in over a million dollars in book sales. Stephen Keshi too was criticized vehemently for picking a team with a lot of newcomers. But his team of newcomers gave us the results we now praise him for.

Go with your gut: Doubt and dissent are common roadblocks on the road to success. There will always be an ample number of people devoted to talking you out of your dream. Go with your gut. Listen to the voice on the inside. Coach Keshi’s bet on Sunday Mba gave him the crucial victories against Cote d’Ivoire and Burkina Faso that ultimately brought the trophy home. Listen to your heart and go with it irrespective of the negativity voiced by people around you.

Be Patient:  Patience plays an important role in succeeding. Taking each day, game or goal at a time is vital to winning in the long run. Focus on winning today. See today’s challenges as stepping stones to tomorrow’s victories. Have a long term vision but develop the patience to work it through by breaking your vision into smaller short term goals.

Look around you, the resources are close by:  Using home-based players played out well for Coach Keshi. Most times, the resources we need to achieve our goals are closer than we want to accept.  It is one of the limiting beliefs that pervades Africa; we import more, hire foreign coaches and generally prefer foreign-based players because of this belief. What you need is often nearer than you think. Look around. Congratulations to Coach Stephen Keshi for a job well done!

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Nehikhare Omotayo Igbinijesu is an Economist, Poet, and Social Entrepreneur. 'He is the author of The Code: A Simple Story About Raising Great Women' and 'Marriage: 12 Questions You Need To Ask Before You Say, “I Do”'. He lives in Lagos with his wife, Akudo and two sons. He is Co-founder of, a motivational resources company based in Lagos. You can email him via nehijesu [at]

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