FEATURE ARTICLE

Saturday, June 1, 2024
[email protected]
Belgium
THE 'POLITICS' OF SUPER EAGLES' CAPTAIN

" Those who fail to learn from experiences of others, are condemned to learn from their own experiences, sometimes in a most painful and most excruciating manner." Cyril C. Nwokeji

" When we are united we conquer; but when we are disunited we falter." A popular wiseness

" There is always a consequence for every action taken by man on planet earth" A popular wiseness

" Only a team wins" Coach Jose Mourinho

oach Finidi George, in a recent media parley, was rather evasive/ambiguous with regards the appointment of the Super Eagles' captain. He started by saying tradition would be followed in the appointment of the Super Eagles' captain - appointment of the oldest player . Later on he said the oldest player is not always appointed captain, citing the appointment of Sunday Oliseh as captain, at a time there were older internationals. He ended his rather ambiguous answer on this issue, by saying the players would be allowed to select their captain.

The last aspect of Coach Finidi George's rather ambiguous answer on the appointment of the Super Eagles' captain, forms the crux of this piece.

The apparent decision of Coach Finidi George to possibly outsource the appointment of the new Super Eagles' captain to the Super Eagles' players, in yours sincerely's considered opinion, is not a correct one. It might open a pandora's box of intrigues, conspiracies, individual animosities, among and between the players. In other words, it will ignite or reignite 'politicking' within the players' ranks, for the 'plum' and presitigious job of Super Eagles' captain.

Yours sincerely will recount a brief history of the Super Eagles' captaincy, from the time yours sincerely started observing the team in 1976, to butress the above-stated arguement :

"Chairman" Christian Chukwu, was the captain of the Super Eagles when yours sincerely stated following the matches of the Super Eagles, then known as: " The Green Eagles of Nigeria"!

He led the team till 1980, when he retired as an international.

Segun "Mathematical " Odegbami, took over and led the team till their elimination at the 1982 World cup elimination series, African zone, by Algeria, in 1981.

The late Muda Lawal of blessed memory, led the team from 1982; and to the 1982 African Nations' cup competition in Libya. The team's preliminary round elimination and the concomittant disbandment of the team, led to a new Super Eagles assembly, under High Chief Festus Adegboye Onigbinde, as coach.

Coach Festus Onigbinde, appointed the late Stephen Keshi of very blessed memory captain. This appointment raised quite some dust, as soccer observers thought Coach Onigbinde didn't follow tradition by not appointing one of the oldest and more established members of the team then : Sylvanus "quick silver" Okpala. For clarity, Stephen Keshi and Sylvanus Okapala were members of the first assembly of the Under- 20 team, the Flying Eagles, in 1978, under captainship of Sylvanus Okpala.

After they failed to win one of the then two tickets reserved for Africa, to the Under-20 World cup competition in Japan, in 1979, the team was disbanded. Sylvanus Okpala and Stephen keshi, were some of players of that group of Flying Eagles, invited to the Super Eagles camp for preparation for the 1980 Nations' cup competition. Stephen Keshi, missed the final list of selected players to the 1980 Nations' cup competition. Sylvanus Okpala made the list. And went on to win the 1980 Nations' cup competition for Nigeria!

Thus, given their antecedents, Sylvanus Okapala, was considered more suitable for the job of Super Eagles' captain than Stephen keshi. But Coach Onigbinde thought otherwise and went ahead with his choice of Stephen keshi, as Super Eagles' captain. As earlier-stated, this raised some brouhaha. But luckily enough, it turned out to be a storm in a tea cup.

Stephen Keshi captained the team till his spat with the NFF in 1985. When he together with : Henry "Silver" Nwosu; Sunday Eboigbe, alias "Sunday New Benin"; Bright Omokaro, alias " 10- 10" and Clement Temile, were suspended from the Super Eagles for reporting late to camp.

Muda Lawal , who was recalled to the Super Eagles, was made captain of the team for the second time. His tenure ended with Nigeria's elimination from the 1986 World cup elimination series, African zone, by Tunisia, in 1985.

The then new Super Eagles, under Late Coach Paul Hamilton, of vey blessed memory, was captained by Henry "Silver" Nwosu, from 1986 onwards.

Henry Nwosu's tenure ended in 1989, with calls by the Nigerian press for the captain's band to be given back to Stephen Keshi, after a five-star performance by Keshi, at a 1990 World cup elimination series, African zone, in Angola.

Thus, Stephen Keshi got back the captain's band after an interregnum of four years. He led the Super Eagles till 1994. Peter Rufai took over in 1994. Later on Uche Okechukwu took over, and led Nigeria at the 1998 World cup tournament in France. Later on, Sunday Oliseh became captain ; after him was Austin "Jay-Jay " Okocha, then Nwankwo Kanu. Joseph Yobo took over from Nwankwo Kanu. Then there was Vincent Enyeama. His controversial replacement by Ahmed Musa, by then Coach Sunday Oliseh, apparently, led to his premature international retirement.

Interim Coach Samson Siasia, apparently, convinced Ahmed Musa to hand over the captain's band to John Mikel Obi, who was then the oldest player in the Super Eagles. And, by so-doing, kept faith with tradition : the Super Eagles captain, is usually the oldest member of the team, normally appointed by the coach of the Super Eagles.

When John Mikel Obi left the stage, Ahmed Musa, then the oldest player, took back the captain's band.

From the above-stated history, it is clear the appointment of a Super Eagles' captain, even by the coach, who is supposed to do it, is not always without contoversy. By apparently derelicting on that responsibility, and outsourcing it to players, Coach Finidi George, might end up compounding matters, as earlier stated.

In the present scenario, due to Coach Finidi George's apparent decision, two players would most likely be in the running for the 'plum' job: "Field Mashall" Kenneth Omeruo, the oldest member of the team, after Ahmed Musa and William Troost Ekong, alias "Rock of Gibralter".

This might result in a decent measure of 'politicking' within the players' group and the possible concomittant negative effects of 'politics'. This might not augure well for the team's fortunes, in terms of unity and cohesion, going forward.

In conclusion, Coach Finidi George, should not break with tradition at this time. Normally, a coach appoints his captain. He should go ahead and do it. Even if there would be misgivings from certain quarters, the fact the Coach of the Super Eagles made the appointment, would help bring sanity within the shortest possible time and make the team get focused on the challenges ahead.

UP SUPER EAGLES ! UP NIGERIA !!!!!!!!

https://www.amazon.com/dp/1976765951/ref=sr_1_7

and "Super Eagles of Nigeria in the New Era", also presently on sale on www. Amazon.com

https://www.amazon.com/Super-Eagles-Nigeria-New-Era/dp/B09P7MGP4P/ref=tmm_pap_swatch_0?_encoding=UTF8&qid=1641064306&sr=8-1

Also at the link below, one can come into contact with a number of items, needed to support the Super Eagles at "COTE D' IVOIRE 2023" !!!!!

https://teespring.com/stores/super-eagles-of-nigeria

The book "Super Eagles of Nigeria : Pride of Africa" and "Super Eagles of Nigeria in the New Era" can also be gotten through me using my e-mail address as contact point. [email protected]

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