Tuesday, 25 August 2015

Oliseh and Siasia: Partners for a stronger National team

Coaches Sunday Oliseh and Samson Siasia were members of the "Golden Generation" of Super Eagles.
Having been tasked with managing the Under-23 sides and the Super Eagles respectively, Coaches Samson Siasia and Sunday Oliseh have hit the ground running at their respective duty posts. Coach Siasia must be commended for the good job done so far in steering his team closer to an Olympic Football ticket, while Coach Sunday Oliseh adjusts seamlessly into a largely unfamiliar terrain in his new role as substantial coach of the senior national team.

It is very pertinent at this juncture that these two be made to understand the magnitude and weight of responsibility bestowed on them - the ever-smiling and eloquent Oliseh, as "the Messiah Nigeria's football has been waiting for", and Siasia as "the consistently-delivering youth football guru" - not just by Amaju Pinnick and his crew at the NFF, but by over a hundred million Nigerians. It is important that these two learn full lessons from the achievements and misgivings of whoever has walked the very demanding path they currently thread.
It is important that they come to the full realization of their individual (and collective) roles in returning Nigeria to her pride of place in the global league of football nations and the catastrophic repercussions for self and country, of a failure to do so.

The synergy and youth within the 1993 Under-17 team and the youthful experience in the 1994 World Cup team contributed to the 1996 Atlanta Olympic success - Mobi Oparaku, Celestine Babayaro, Wilson Oruma, Kanu Nwankwo from the Under-17 team and Uche Okechukwu, Sunday Oliseh, Austin Okocha, Tijani Babangida, Emmanuel Amunike, Daniel Amokachi from the World Cup team. The same scenario has sort of replayed itself in the national team as there is a flurry of good players available at the moment who are eligible for both teams. It will only be logical to exploit this for the short and long term benefit of the national teams.

A full house of predominantly foreign-based Super Eagles would currently look like this: Vincent Enyeama, Carl Ikeme, Daniel Akpeyi, Leon Balogun, Uwa Echiejile, Kingsley Madu, Chima Akas, Juwon Oshaniwa,  Godfrey Oboabona, Kenneth Omeruo, William Ekong, Ogenyi Onazi, Hope Akpan, Obiora Nwankwo, Anderson Esiti, Izunna Uzochukwu, Joel Obi, John Mikel Obi, Kingsley Sokari, Lukman Haruna, Rabiu Ibrahim, Ahmed Musa, Victor Moses, Moses Simon, Imoh Ezekiel, Samuel Aaron, Odion Ighalo, Emmanuel Emenike, Anthony Ujah; with Kenneth Otigba, Gbenga Arokoyo, Derik Osede, Abdul Ajagun and several others also available for selection.

Of these, Kingsley Madu, Chima Akas, Kenneth Omeruo, William Ekong, Anderson Esiti, Kingsley Sokari, Moses Simon, Imoh Ezekiel are eligible for the Under-23 team.
Others like Kingsley Ekpolo, Dominic Iorfa, Moses Odubajo, Derik Osede, Tiago Ilori, Mikel Agu, Abdul Ajagun, Musa Yahaya, Kelechi Iheanacho, Michael Olaitan, Isaac Success and Cedric Omogui are equally experienced and still available for selection to the Under-23 team.

It would therefore be wholly beneficial to both teams if as many of the Under-23 could be incorporated to train and develop with the senior team. This will foster experience, confidence and synergy in the Olympic Team ranks (with the Olympics just a year away), and more importantly, synergy, team spirit and longevity in the Super Eagles as a long term gain, since the future of the Eagles lies with these younger players.

Coaches Sunday Oliseh and Samson Siasia should therefore see themselves as partners in building a stronger National team than they left over a decade ago. They should abhor any form of competition, but should see this mandate as a rare and unique opportunity to rewrite the country's football history by cooperating to ensure each other's success, starting with the Olympics only a year away, the 2017 AFcon a few months thereafter, and also in the entire build up to the 2018 World Cup and beyond.

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