Less than a year after a “marriage” seemingly made-in-heaven between the football house and the former national team captain, Sunday Oliseh, it is no longer news that the NFF has fallen out with its latest bride.
Ensuing reactions about this development have been as numerous as they have been diverse. The major highlight is that, once again, the ineptitude of our football bureaucracy is brought to the fore. This development adds another chapter to the NFF’s well-documented repertoire of administrative ineptness – especially with regards to the payment of entitlements to National team coaches and players.
The ill-timed resignation – barely a month to crucial qualifying matches – plus palpable inexperience in handling media criticism are considered Coach Oliseh’s shortcoming in the debacle. Overall, Oliseh has proven his point that he is not like other coaches who would put up with all the anomalies at the Glass House just to keep their job by going all out to expose the flaws within the system.
Back to the present, Oliseh has hit the exit door and his action has most likely bolted it to any further engagement with the Nigerian football authorities permanently. A consortium of coaches headed by Under-23 Coach, Sampson Siasia (who was dismissed for failing to qualify for the 2012 AFCON) has been given an interim mandate of chauffeuring the team.
What does this portend for the team going forward?
Coach Siasia finds himself in exactly the same position as when he was first appointed National team Coach where the team was already trailing in an AFCON qualification series. The months following witnessed improved Super Eagles performances, yet the customary ups and downs in Nigerian football system. Unfortunately, a home draw with Guinea put paid to Nigeria’s qualification and Coach Siasia was made the scapegoat. He had however, done enough to prove he is one of the best indigenous coaches.
Four years down the line, he was re-appointed National Under-23 Coach and he once again delivered a ticket to the Olympic Games. He has now been saddled with an additional responsibility of shepherding the senior side while also preparing for the Games. This, I think, could make a lot of futuristic sense with Russia 2018 as the bigger picture.
The current Super Eagles set up has a lot of young players, many of whom are eligible for the Olympic team. They are potentially the crux of the Super Eagles over the next few years and so they need all the exposure, playing together.
Coach Siasia’s appointment offers him an opportunity to work closely with some of these players whom he can integrate into the Under-23 side. Shehu Mohammed, Phillip Madu, Kenneth Omeruo, William Ekong, Anderson Esiti, Usman Mohammed, Moses Simon, Imoh Ezekiel, Chisom Chikatara have all played (and impressed) for the Super Eagles in recent times.
Coach Siasia will do well to look in the direction of these players and others, as he prepares two teams for continental and world assault.
|Anderson Esiti impressed in the Eagles colours|
|Imoh Ezekiel impressed on his Super Eagles debut|
|Isaac Success has been regular in La Liga with Granada|
|Derik Osede plays for Bolton Wanderers in England|
With further time together after the experience of the Olympics, the players will synergize into a stronger and more experienced Super Eagles team for the 2018 World Cup in the next two years. A Super Eagles selection from the following should be able to yield teams which can qualify for the 2017 AFCON as well as expose the Olympic hopefuls.
Carl Ikeme, Daniel Akpeyi, Emmanuel Daniel
Abdullahi Shehu, Godfrey Oboabona
Phillip Madu, Stanley Amuzie/Chima Akas, Elderson Echiejile,
Kenneth Omeruo, William Ekong, Efe Ambrose, Leon Balogun, Derik Osede,
Anderson Esiti, Azubuike Okechukwu, Ogenyi Onazi, Obiora Nwankwo
Usman Mohammed, Abdul Ajagun, Etebo Oghenekaro, Musa Yahaya,
John Mikel Obi,
John Mikel Obi,
Moses Simon, Michael Olaitan, Victor Moses, Ahmed Musa,
Imoh Ezekiel, Aaron Samuel
Isaac Success, Chisom Chikatara, Odion Ighalo, Fanendo Adi