Cyril C. NwokejiSunday, March 6, 2016




ours sincerely was shocked to learn of the sudden and rather surprising resignation of Coach Sunday Oliseh. He resigned at a time one thought sanity had returned to our soccer house after the imbroglio caused by his "You tube" blunder. It really defies one's imagination, why Coach Sunday Oliseh, chose to resign at this time. I wonder if he really weighed the pros and cons of such a decision; or did he in his impusive nature, decide to suddenly leave the Super Eagles' top job? It is really difficult to comprehend the thinking of Coach Oliseh, as he appears to be an enigmatic personality. One thing one can say at this juncture, is that the decision of Coach Oliseh, to suddenly resign his job as Super Eagles' coach, will certainly have far reaching consequences for his further coaching career, either in Nigeria or overseas. In one's considerd opinion, he resigned at a time he was at the verge of producing a good result against Egypt and concomitantly, would have temporarily, silenced his numerous critics. Unfortunately for him though, somebody else, will take his glory. Did he quit because of lack of self belief, in his ability to successfully tinker the Super Eagles, more especially against the back drop of the myriad of criticisms slingerd on him after the unexpected early elimination at the CHAN tournament?

The reasons given by Coach Oliseh for resigning, bordered mainly on what can be summarised as unfavourable working conditions. The question at this juncture is: which indigenous coach has functioned in optimal circumstances, as Super Eagles coach? It has always been problems galore for the indigenous coaches during their time as Super Eagles coaches; and they never gave up and trudged on and with sometimes very impressive results to the bargain. Coach Adegboye Onigbinde, when he was Super Eagles' coach between 1982 and 1984, was quarterd in a mosquito -infested National Institute of sports residence, and drove round in the discharge of his duties, in an old car. Needless saying he didn't get a fantastic salary; but still guided a group of young, talented, inexperienced and youthfully enthusiastic players to the final match of the 1984 AFCON tournament, losing narrowly to Cameroun; and proudly coming home with a silver medal! To further rub salt to the injury inflicted on Coach Onigbinde, no thanks to his poor working conditions, he was subsequently relieved of his position by the NFF. The Modakeke high chief, didn't go bunkers, but took matters calmly, in his usually mature, amiable and gentle nature.

Coach Chris Udemezue of blessed memory, also had similar working conditions as Coach Adegboye Onigbinde, but trudged on till he was relieved of his job.

Coach Paul Hamilton didn't fare better either, but qualified Nigeria for the 1988 AFCON tournament, where the Super Eagles, won a silver medal, as well as the 1988 Olympic games, in Seoul, South-Korea.

Of more recent memory, Coaches Samson Sia Sia and Stephen Keshi, though with relatively better working conditions, in comparison to the older generation indigenous coaches, but working conditions, far from ideal, did their best for Nigeria till they lost their job. The case of Coach Keshi, is particularly noteworthy: before the 2013 AFCON tournament, the then sports minister, even suggested the possible sacking of Coach Keshi, as a possible way of ensuring success at the tournament; at the 2013 AFCON tournament, Nigeria posted two points out of six after the first two matches of the group's phase, the "big boss," in a meeting with the NFF, was categorically told he had under-performed, and there were rumours in the grapevine that the erstwhile Zambian coach, Herve Renard, was being lined up as a possible replacement. The big boss didn't waver but continued with his work. After qualification for the quarter-finals, and after being paired to meet the dreaded Ivory Coast, the NFF, in an apparent display of lack of confidence in the ability of Coach Keshi, to pull the chest nut out of the fire, in the encounter against the Ivorians, already started making travel arrangements for the Super Eagles players to travel back to their bases after what they concluded would be certain elimination by Ivory Coast. The "big boss," in the face of these humiliating circumstances, kept his cool, in the discharge of his duties; and eventually, against conventional wisdom, master-minded the defeat of the Ivorians. Even after having achieved this feat, and having qualified for the final match of AFCON 2013, the NFF, in their 'infinite wisdom,' thought it wise to query Coach Keshi's assistant, Coach Sylvanus Okpala, while the team was preparing for the final match - a huge distraction! But despite these "Nigerian odds," the " Big boss," went ahead to pilote the Super Eagles to victory, at the 2013 AFCON tournament; and thereby, silenced his critics. Like the smart business man he is, he took advantage of this scenario, to press home the changes he wanted in his working conditions, which he eventually got.

Coach Sunday Oliseh, should have borrowed a leaf from the Coach Keshi's style of 'dealing ' with the NFF; instead of chickening out, apparently, as a consequence of increased pressure no thanks to Nigeria's failure at the CHAN tournament.

However, the above narrative, doesn't mean yours sincerely, supports the NFF's style of dealing with indigenous coaches; on the contrary, one thinks the NFF, still needs to improve it's manner of engaging indigenous coaches. Progress has been made over the years in this regard, but one thinks more can still be done.

Coach Sunday Oliseh after this experience as Super Eagles coach, has certainly realised that the job of coaching / managing a team, is a dirty, hard, rugged, dogged job that is not meant for every one. It's a world that is very far removed from the cosy, rosy, comfortable, airconditioned television studios, where Coach Oliseh partakes in analysing matches. And certainly far removed from the palatable, palatial, comfortable, offices, where he attends meetings, in the FIFA technical study group.

The decision to abruptly resign his job, more especially, against the backdrop of the controversies that followed his tenure as Super Eagles coach, means the chances of being re-appointed Super Eagles coach, or appointed to work for any of the nations' national teams, in the future, is less than average. Mee thinks he made a mistake to have left the Super Eagles job at this time; if he had hung in there, he would have experienced better times and that would have further polished his CV as coach; a necessity for getting a coaching job anywhere. The talk about having played fourteen matches with only two defeats, will in no distant time, fade into unglorified oblivion! If he played fourteen matches, what major victory did he achieve ? This is how he would be evaluated for the next coaching assignment.

With regards his legacy as Super Eagles coach, he would unfortunately, go down in history, as one of the worst coaches ever to have handled the Super Eagles of Nigeria. Some of us who love him, apparently, forsaw this scenario, and tried to encourage him to hang in there; yours sincerely wrote a number of articles appreciating the slightest progress made by the team, under his watch, and thus encouraged him to continue, in the face of criticisms. But the apparently, enigmatic, Coach Oliseh, chose to do things his way; apparently, without consel, contrary to the advice of yours sincerely. The end result of such unguided, and unguarded way of doing things by Coach Oliseh, is the present scenario. I certainly hope he doesn't regret his decision.

In conclusion, with benefit of hindsight, the appointment of Coach Oliseh, as Super Eagles' coach, was one huge, expensive, childish adventure; a blunder of immense proportions, for which the NFF, must take full responsibility! It is clear the NFF appointed a coach, who was not ready for the big stage: an assignment as big as tinkering the Super Eagles of Nigeria; the biggest soccer coaching job in Africa and one of the biggest on this planet. Any how, one hopes for the best for the Super Eagles of Nigeria, in the prevailing circumstances.