Wednesday, 8 May 2013

Which way, John Obuh?

Obuh's boys placed third at the 2013 AYC

John Obuh is one of the few Nigerian coaches reputed for talent discovery. Kenneth Omeruo, Ogenyi Onazi, Ramon Azeez, Stanley Okoro, Sani Emmanuel and Edafe Egbedi amongst others, are some of the talents he brought to limelight. He guided these boys to a runner-up spot at the Under-17 World Cup in 2009 and two years later, graduated a good number of them to the Under-20 (Flying Eagles) team which won the African Youth Championship but finished at the quarter finals of the World Cup.
Two of his protégés are currently first team players in the Super Eagles. Deservingly, he was mandated to tutor the current Under-20 team.

It was expected that Coach Obuh would scout for, discover and groom even more talented young players (and there are many of them within and outside the country). But for a coach renowned for discipline and a fierce determination to succeed, it is hard to understand why he chose to recycle some of his former wards.

It does not make much sense recalling Aigbe Oliha, Mohammed Aliyu and Chidi Osuchukwu (whom he dropped from the team to the last World Cup), Abdul Ajagun, Kayode Olarewaju (neither of whom was exceptional in the two tournaments in 2011) and Edafe Egbedi, to what is supposed to be a developmental cadre in football.
Aside the fact that most of these boys are not even under the “football age” of 20, there was realistically nothing exceptional about some of their performances during the last African Youth Championship where they placed third.

Coach John Obuh therefore has some serious work on his hands to build a team that will not only do well at Turkey 2013, but that will produce more players who will graduate to compete favourably for a place in the senior team (like Kenneth Omeruo and Ogenyi Onazi) currently in transition.

He needs to urgently deploy a couple of talented players and go back to the drawing if he is to make an impression in Turkey. Luckily, there seems to be abundance of players and perhaps a reasonable amount of time. He will have several options like Standard Liege's goal-scoring sensation, Imoh Ezekiel (before he is snapped up by Belgium), Reading FC's Hope Akpan, Torino's Italian-born Sergio Uyi (who has already indicated his interest to feature for Nigeria) as well as Porto’s Michael Agu (who was surprisingly dropped before this tournament).

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