Friday, March 18, 2016

NFF, Oliseh et al: Do we need a foreign coach?

Apart from the legend Segun Odegbami and probably a few other optimists, very negligible number of Nigerians gave Sunday Oliseh any chance of appreciable success when he was appointed chief coach of the Super Eagles  by the Nigerian Football Federation (NFF). 

In fact, a columnist in one of the Nigerian national dailies had foretold outright that Oliseh was not going to endure the test of time; given the operational system we all know that runs at the Glasshouse in Abuja.

The sport editorial commentator had gone ahead to insist that “No indigenous coach can survive the abstract system, which is the more you look, the less you see ….”

At the appointment of the affable prolific player and former captain of the Super Eagles, Odegbami and fellow teammate of the glorious Green Eagles day, Aimesimaka, had thumbed up the choice of Oliseh for the job as decided by the NFF but to the chagrin of his admirers and all those who had believed in him, Oliseh woke up a few weeks ago and announced that he had thrown in the towel on the job. Talking with an admixture of surprise and disappointment Odegbami said “for a coach to just wake up one morning and resign from a job that was giving him between N5m and N7m a month is not normal.” In fact, the football veteran has insisted that there must be something behind the matter beyond the eye; the truth of which Odegbami believes will be revealed someday. 

What many Nigerians seem not to know about the peculiarity of football management in Nigeria is that it takes a wizard coach with the “third eye” to sail it smooth to the shore of success with almighty Glasshouse, the players who are usually in cliques almost akin to cults in which they decide to make a success or otherwise of their coach, depending on which side of luck he (the coach) falls with the most influential clique in the team, then the fans and the journalists some of whom are  paid horn blowers for certain powerful interest groups against or in support of the football governing body in the country.

Perhaps, Coach Oliseh would have made some success with the Eagles, but he seemed to have been under panting panic in the face of NFF president, Amaju Pinnick who, most likely, did not disclose to Oliseh in clear terms what NFF actually desired of him.

Hmn! The truth is always bitter. But if it must be told everybody who has some rudimentary knowledge of football like this writer; not to talk of giants like Odegbami and his contemporaries, should know that though, Oliseh was very good and reliable as a player, he was just not the next candidate for the coaching job of the Nigeria national side without a proven coaching profile in his kitty; given the ever rising competitive dimension which international soccer has assumed today. The earlier we make away with all manners of sentiments in our team and coach selection, the sooner we begin to see the lofty results we have ever desired from the round leather game.

Yes, it is not bad to give chance for indigenous coaches but when we have to take deliberate risks that look stupid from the outset, then, there arises a question tag as to whose interest is being protected whether national or individual? By the way, did it not sound rather absurd to have expected Sunday Oliseh, a total greenhorn in the coaching business to have surpassed Stephen Keshi’s performance

Keshi had taken the Togolese national side to the world cup among other achievements before he was considered for the coaching job of the Nigerian Super Eagles and even his arch enemies and critics would agree that Keshi was not a failure on the job when the scorecard needs to be tabled. The records are there. So, where is Oliseh?

 It is however, believed in some quarters that the fact that Oliseh did not win the African Nations Championship (CHAN) tourney could not be a sufficient reason why he took his unceremonious exit from the plum job, which he had boasted to handle better than any other coach who had ever coached the national team. But the truth has now told itself as Oliseh has apparently lost out of the game of success for so much poor management of media relation, ill temper, arrogance, ineptitude, and fear of failure which he had developed against the yet to be played Eagles-Nigeria cracker in Kaduna.

However, to bring back Eagles from the woods, the NFF should look beyond Coach Samson Siasia, who had once been sent packing from the same team some years back for not qualifying the team for Nations Cup of that year as the Guineans dealt with his Eagles in a manner not to be easily forgotten.

Siasia, no doubt, is a good coach for the age-grade teams, particularly the Dream team, which he has handled as the African Champion and has led to qualify for the Rio Olympic in Brazil this year. This success, however, may not be the whole yardstick needed to be used in returning him to the national team, unless of course, as a stop-gap which his choice really looks like in the current circumstance. Otherwise, this Pinnik’s NFF will be gunning for another big goof.

While one advises that Coach Samson Siasia stand in the gap for the Egypt’s two-legged match respectively after which, the NFF should go shopping for a sound foreign coach. The question remains, when shall we get it right? Or do we declare a state of emergency in the Nigerian football so that we can at least minimize the recurring loss in finance and national image?

Nigeria’s football position in FIFA’s has become too poor, in CAF, it is nothing to write home about. Come to think of it, the Eagles can hardly boast of one spectacular player that could be considered a threatening terror to opponents like Egypt which is known for its compactness and ever business-like posture against opponents, especially when Nigeria is involved.

Should our present situation force the NFF to look out for the hiring of a foreign coach, so be it, if only to get this crooked terrain smoothened up once and for all that our once robust soccer will come alive even again!

Banji Boye/GEE

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