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A coach for Super Eagles
SINCE the oyibo coach called Lars Largerback, a native of Sweden, broke our soccer–loving hearts, at the last world cup hosted for the first time on the soil of Africa, in Nelson Mandela’s South Africa, not a few persons have called for a total overhaul of the team, including the coaching crew.
In fact, since the loss of our soccer bloom in South Africa, where the Super Eagles lost their plume and were shot down, different suggestions and words of advice regarding how the Super Eagles can fly and soar again have been made, and are still being made on the pages of our newspapers, at least. And there is no doubt that those who run our football federation are reading and taking heed to the offerings – even if they may not agree with the majority of them.
One excellent point they could frown at and ignore to their biting and perilous chagrin, pertains to the matter regarding the next coach of the Super Eagles after the Lars man has since turned his back on Nigeria to my utmost joy. In my “Learning to Lose” on the Super Eagles, published here on Monday, June 28, 2010, I said, among things, that we did not in the first place need the Swede and Scandinavian to supplant Coach Shaibu Amodu, who qualified Nigeria for the World Cup.
I argued that one reason the Super Eagles lost colour, bloom, glow, plume and bliss in South Africa could be attributed to that bad mistake. Indeed, it was a hugely, costly error to replace Amodu at that time that the powers that were did.
The un-edifying change and deletion of Amodu from his own team could not but have some spiritually negative and negatively spiritual overtones and consequences. Or didn’t they know that, that was the World Cup of the gods? Let them ask Octopus Paul. No humour and joke here, please. And you still wonder and are astonished that we kissed the grass the way we did in South Africa? Join me to demand that Amodu be given a public apology.
When I said what I said then, one of those who refused to share my sentiment was one Mr. M.A. Sopitan of Oregun, Lagos. Permit my quoting his text message: “No sir!! Nobody owes Amodu any apology, rather, he owes Nigerians an apology for bringing our football to disrepute! At least, with the same personnel, Largerback presented a presentable team and…. for two mistakes…. he should have introduced Kanu against the Greeks after Kaita’s ouster, and secondly he allowed his ego to override Nigeria’s interest by fielding Yakubu instead of Martins against Korea, because of his grouse against Martins. I believe it’s time to bring us Siasia who has acquitted himself in the past. Nigeria needs to move on, not backwards” (08023077108; 07:38:27 pm ; 28/04/10).
Mr. Sopitan is definitely and excellently entitled to his opinion and sentiment, but I need to alert here that a coach who allows his ego to override his team’s interest is a bad coach. Amodu is not that coach.
We all must share in the joy resulting from the run-away bad oyibo coach. Furthermore, I still wish to reiterate here that until and unless Amodu is properly apologised to, and he on his part properly accepts the apology from his disgracers, our Super Eagles are not likely to soar and shine, especially in and at times and moments of great expectations.
Now, this heralds our script to the case of Samson Siasia, rightly and correctly put forward as the next coach of the Super Eagles by Sopitan and others. Of course, Siasia is not a suckling baby in football coaching, even though his coaching papers and certificates are sparse or may be so. He played the game to the highest level and made a remarkably clean winning a silver medal on each occasion. Yet, we must still nurse some fear.
Siasia himself is creating this fear in us. By the time you read this, the relevant powers that be now would have appointed him as the new coach of the Super Eagles. No problem. What unusual and disturbing matter his appointment might raise relates to his insistence on foreign assistants. How dare Samson Siasia nurse this thought?
While many persons are making a case for a home-bred and a home-made coach to come and enrich Nigerian soccer, Siasia is making his own case for foreign-bred and foreign-made assistants. What kind of contradiction is this? And what concepts of soccer does he now spouse and enunciate? He needs to be told in clear terms that all his assistants must be home-grown, in the same way we demand that a home-grown coach such as himself be given the appointment. Siasia’s alleged wish for wanting foreign assistants to boost his emoluments holds no water.
No need to impress it upon the Nigerian Football Federation that he deserves to be paid as much as the federation paid the failed foreign coaches, whose actions, in diverse ways, led to the losses of the Super Eagles in the recent past. Siasia needs to demonstrate his integrity and concepts of justice, loyalty and commitment to Nigerian soccer and the national association of coaches he belongs to, by insisting that the Nigerian coach of his stature is not inferior to the likes of Largerback and Beti Vogts, who came here to sink our soccer, despite their huge pay-packets. Siasia must reject a free meal of porridge, all because he wants to be the next coach of the Super Eagles. Indeed, anything less than the kind of money that the NFF paid Lagerback is a free meal of porridge, which Siasia must turn down. Or is Siasia not an excellent performer superior to any yeye oyibo coach who recently came here to soil our soccer?
Now, having said the above, I advise and insist, when he eventually agrees on un-belittling terms with the NFF, that Siasia must find a way to have the NFF reconcile with Shaibu Amodu in the manner I have suggested in the beginning of this piece, and in my earlier one (“Learning to Lose”) Monday, June 28, 2010, I repeat. If this is not done, Siasia or any coach hired to coach and manage the Super Eagles will not succeed in the endeavour to rebuild new after the self-induced and self-inflicted retribution that will continually trail our soccer at crucial moments. What I have said, I have said at the risk of beatings this column may get thereafter, and sooner or later. Truth is truth, especially poetic or spiritual truth, so this column is not afraid of beatings in respect of this and other matters.
And I say, finally: To fall in love with Nigerian soccer again, especially at the level of the Super Eagles, we must make peace with the badly treated erstwhile Nigerian coach of the Super Eagles. But may I be proved dead wrong. May I be proved dead wrong. Yet, take this as a parting shot aimed at goal. I have sight and instincts which escape many a seer – although I am none in the sight of a seer not better than me.
An autumn wish: For the next more than two fortnights, my listed phone number will be unreachable. You shall know when it is reachable again. For now and until I state otherwise, you can reach me by proxy thus:
or phone 08055001746.