We are looking for
the best man for the job, not the best English man” – English FA chief, Martin Glein on the next Three Lions coach.
What else do I need to buttress my position than this quote? These are the inventors of the game but for the third time in recent times, they are not ruling out the possibility of a foreigner taking charge of the national team.
There is a proposal to have U21 coach Gareth Southgate on interim basis for about a year to supervise the World Cup qualifiers.
He could land the job on permanent basis afterwards, but the FA know his limitations and the odds against him. They have Claudio Ranieri and Arsene Wenger on their wishlist in the long term.
But here we are contesting the rationale behind NFF’s decision to hire a foreign coach. You could argue against the delay in hiring the foreign coach given the enormity of the assignment at hand; you could also contest the quality and qualification of the in-coming coach; but you can’t contest the fact that we need to look beyond these shores this time.
Nobody can comfortably argue in favour of an indigenous coach being at the helm of the national team during these World Cup qualifiers. We have stood behind them for eight years now.
Yes, beyond the four months Lars Lagerback was on the saddle in 2010, local coaches have been in charge since 2008. During this period, we have used six of them namely Shuaibu Amodu, Austin Eguavoen, Samson Siasia, Stephen Keshi, Sunday Oliseh and Salisu Yusuf. But where is our football today?
In six AFCONs during this period (if you include the already bungled AFCON 2017), we have missed four. We have not been to three of the last four and for the first time, we are missing AFCON back-to-back. So, from being the traditional bronze medalists at AFCON, we are no longer guaranteed a ticket which the likes of Cape Verde now secure with more ease.
This is where the confidence reposed on our indigenous coaches for the last eight years has placed us. So if you were the NFF president today, would you still go for an indigenous coach? What indices would you be relying on to take such a decision?
If you keep doing something the same way and it is not working wouldn’t you do it differently and see if it works. If you persist on that faulty formula, that is the definition of FOOLISHNESS.
Most of the countries bossing us on the continent today have foreign coaches. We keep sticking to what we have and keep retrogressing. At the risk of being lampooned by the indigenous coaches and their apologists (as if I hate them more), the truth must be told.
We have exhausted all we have here and nothing seems to be working. There is a new generation of coaches coming up like Emmanuel Amuneke, Imama Amapakabo and Kennedy Boboye. We have to wait for them to develop but before then, a foreigner should be on the saddle.
We need somebody who doesn’t know anybody here; that will not take recourse to any players agent. We need somebody to eschew sentiments; extend invitations and make selections on merit and bring us back to winning ways.
Yes, our football is at that point when we must get our playing personnel spot on to move on. May be I’m being so blunt; but the fact is that questionable selections, biased invitations fueled by ‘paddy paddy’ players’ agents have been the bane of our national team for the past eight years.
That is what has brought us to where we are today. That is what has brought this GIANT down to its knees. That is what has made this ELEPHANT a prey for ANTS.
At some point, England fell back on the likes Sven Goran Erickson and Fabio Capello. Now they have failed again with an indigenous coach and have not ruled out the possibility of hiring a foreign coach.
Perhaps, we will also argue that we have better indigenous coaches than England. Will we also contend that we have more established internationals than a country that has the likes of Alan Shearer, Rio Ferdinand and Garry Neville also eyeing the job. But they are simply being frank with themselves.
I’m more concerned with how soon this new foreign coach will be unveiled. The argument to allow a local coach execute the October World Cup qualifier doesn’t hold water. Our group opponents Algeria just signed on a Serbian coach. This announcement should not go beyond next week. Three months is ample time to prosecute a World Cup qualifier and get a result.
Of course, he will have the formality AFCON qualifier against Tanzania to get a good look at his boys in a competitive setting.
We also have to be concerned about the qualifications of the coach. We are not looking for a Pep Guardiola or Jose Mourinho, but we could get a decent enough coach. The fact is that the Guardiolas don’t come to Africa. Most of the coaches who come to this continent hone their stuff here. We may not get a Grade A coach but we can get a grade B or C+ but not a D. Once we sort out the timing and the quality of the coach, it’s okay.
Let’s do what we have not been doing for the past eight years – hand a foreign coach a long-term contract.
We will come back to our indigenous coaches, they are here with us. But we need a revolution.
Nwankpa Jnr is a sports analyst
Clement Nwankpa Jnr
NFF Blames Covid-19 For Salary Delay
The Nigeria Football Federation has blamed the delay in the payment of players and coaches bonuses of the national teams on the coronavirus pandemic.
The pandemic brought sporting activities and other businesses around the world to a halt last year, which affected the federation in terms of sponsorship and funds availability.
Super Eagles defender, Leon Balogun, in a recent interview with newsmen, revealed that players and coaches were owed match bonuses.
“About the bonuses, it’s not even a secret, I’ve read something recently where people in charge contradict themselves saying they’ve been paid then they admit they haven’t been paid,” Balogun said.
“And as I said I’m always quite outspoken, probably I know if some people hear that they might come after me but I don’t care because that’s just how it is,” he added.
In a reply to the player’s outburst, NFF General Secretary, Mohammed Sanusi, said the challenges caused by the pandemic were still being felt by government’s institutions and businesses globally.
“The NFF derives no joy in owing players and coaches their entitlements. The same players and coaches have been well-taken care of and provided the necessary facilities when things were normal. And as we work assiduously towards conquering the present challenges and seeing sunlight again, we expect the players, coaches and administrative staff to show the same level of understanding that they have been showing over the past 18 months,” Sanusi said in a statement by the federation’s media office.
“Of course, we are pragmatists and we realise that these things can be frustrating and some people will boil over and talk about them. It is normal. Last month, during the friendlies in Austria, we were able to pay some of the (Super Falcons) outstanding bonuses and allowances. We are working at a pace presently to clear what is remaining.
“As I speak, we owe the team bonuses and allowances from only the last two matches, and payments for these two games have been sent to the Central Bank some weeks ago. They will receive the monies shortly. We are equally working to pay the coaches what they are being owed as salaries.” Sanusi added.
WAFU B Qualifier: Angels Thrash AS Police 5-0, Book Semi’s Ticket
Reigning Nigeria Women Football League (NWFL) Premiership Champions, Rivers Angels on Tuesday evening booked their spot in the last four of the WAFU (UFOA B) Women’s Champions League qualification tournament with an emphatic 5-0 thrashing of Association Sportive de la Police de Niamey.
Maryann Ezenagu scored a brace while Oghenebrume Ikekhua and Alice Ogebe also registered their names on the score sheet.
The Jewel of Rivers got their opening goal in the 13th minute through Ikekhua, who kept her composure to finish off a square pass by left back Rofiat Imuran, who had gone past two opponents.
After a series of near misses by Angels’ forwards, Vivian Ikechukwu provided a superb cross from the far right for Ogebe to tap in the 36th minute to double the lead for Rivers.
In the 45th minute, Ogebe rounded the AS Police goalkeeper to lay the ball for Ezenagu who made no mistake in making it 3-0.
After the break, the Jewel of Rivers kept mounting pressure on the defence of the Nigeriens which eventually paid off with an own goal by Chisa Marceline Bekumaka, James who diverted Ezenagu’s low cross into her own net.
Ezenagu herself then completed the rout in the 77th minute with a beautiful tap in after spurning an offside trap before rounding the hapless AS Police goalkeeper.
With Tuesday’s result, Rivers Angels have finished top of Group B and will wait for today to know who comes second in Group A for a Semifinal clash which will hold on August 2.
Coach Edwin Okon after the game said the difference between his side and their opponents is the fact that they took their chances.
“Football is football and there are no small teams as far as you’re in this tournament,” he stated.
“As you can see, we are actually progressing as the competition continues.
“The difference between us and our opponents today is that we took our chances when they came.
“So I’m really elated with the result today and commend my girls for the outstanding performance”, Okon added.
And for the second consecutive game, Ezenagu was named Player of the Match.
Okagbare, Amusan, 10 Other Nigerian Athletes Cleared
The Athletics Integrity Unit of World Athletics has cleared 12 Nigerian athletes to compete in the track and field events of the ongoing Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games.
This comes after jumper Ruth Usoro, sprinter Favour Ofili and eight other Nigerian athletes were on Wednesday disqualified from the track and field events of the Olympics.
Tidesports Source gathered that the athletes include sprinter Blessing Okagbare, who won silver at the Beijing edition of the Games in 2008; Ese Brume, Tobi Amusan, Divine Oduduru, Grace Nwokocha and Patience Okon-George.
Others are Enoch Adegoke, Imaobong Nse Uko, Itsekiri Usheoritee, Chukwuebika Enekwechi, Emmanuel Ojeli and Samson Nathaniel.
Reigning Nigerian sprint queen and 100m and 200m record holder, Okagbare, tops the list of the 12 athletes the AIU cleared to compete in the athletics event of the Games, which begins today.
Okagbare, who is making her fourth appearance at the Games, will be competing in the women’s 100m heats on the opening day of the track and field events.
Amusan, who is ranked number four in the world in the 100m hurdles; long jumper Ese Brume, who tops the world list in her event coming to the Games, and Grace Nwokocha, the home-based sensation, who clocked 11.09secs in March at the MOC Grand Prix in Lagos to seal her qualification for the Tokyo Games are seen as medal hopefuls.
Oduduru, Adegoke and Itshekiri will be competing in the men’s 100m while Oduduru will also race in the 200m, an event he holds the national record of 19.73secs, which he set two years ago in Austin, Texas in the USA to win the NCAA gold.
Shot put athlete, Enekwechi, who made it to the event’s final at the World Athletics Championship in Doha, Qatar in 2019, will also be hoping to put up a fine outing in his event.
The 4x400m mixed relay quartet of Imaobong Nse Uko, Patience Okon-George, Nataniel Samson and Ifeanyi Ojeli will be in action today in the first semi-final heat.
Secretary-General, Athletics Federation of Nigeria, Adisa Beyioku, says the athletes are in good spirits as they are determined to return Nigeria to the podium for the first time since 2008 when Okagbare and the women’s 4x100m won Nigeria’s last medals in track and field.
Beyioku assured the 12 athletes that the federation would continue to be “the goose that laid Team Nigeria’s golden eggs at the Olympics.”
Athletics accounts for 13 of the 25 medals won by the country at the Games and two of the three gold medals won since the country’s first participation at the Olympics in China.
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