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Who Takes Over From Sunday Oliseh As Eagles Manager?

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Super Eagles’ Chief Coach, Sunday Oliseh, quit his job in the early hours of yesterday.

Super Eagles’ Chief Coach, Sunday Oliseh, quit his job in the early hours of yesterday.

My mind was firmly on Zurich, Switzerland, until a few minutes ago.

It is late Thursday night. I was struggling to find something to write about different from the FIFA elections that will take place tomorrow. By the time you are reading this the world would have a new FIFA president in place if all goes according to plan.

Of course, I did not want to write about the elections anymore, noticing the cold receptions previous write-ups on them attracted to my page.

People are not really bothered or interested in the politics and scandals that have turned the organisation into a theatre of corruption and decadence such as the world of football has never seen in its entire history.

People would rather keep enjoying their feast of global football that has been untouched by all the shenanigans in the organisation, and hope that the law will eventually catch up with the culprits that destroyed the image of FIFA and rid the beautiful game of their influence and afflictions.

So, if all goes well and there are no more dramatic detentions and arrests by Swiss security operatives as happened several months ago, a new man will take over at the helm of affairs of world football, just as several others will mourn the loss of integrity, loyalty and decency, particularly as it concerns us in Africa.

I feel particularly sad for South Africa’s Tokyo Sexwale. I can completely understand his consternation even as he now had no hope in hell or heaven to win.

How could his own people in Africa have led him this far with their assurances only to abandon him at the finish line when they knew all the time he was not their anointed one?

People are wondering where Danny Jordan of South Africa, Kalusha of Zambia, Tenga of Tanzania,  Kweisi of Ghana, and even our own Amaju of Nigeria are in all of this.

One day the story of Africa’s role in the 2016 FIFA elections will be told. I tell you it will be very interesting to find out that nothing has changed from the political shenanigans of the past that made African football administration the butt of jokes and a ready tool for exploitation by those who understand how to manipulate an environment with a poverty mentality!

‘Rumour mongers’ tell me the Nigerian Minister of Sports is interested in knowing who the NFF would vote for and actually called the NFF president to ask him. I hear the response left him bemused, and confirmed my well-expressed previous speculation that we may have sold our birth right for a pot of porridge.

The world would eventually get to know the details of what transpires this weekend.

So, as the world is preparing to welcome a new FIFA, my friend, Osasu Obayuwana, calls me up very early this Friday morning to release the ultimate bombshell – Sunday Oliseh has resigned his appointment as manager of the Super Eagles on Twitter!

I can’t even start to think what could have really happened. Something tells me there is more to Sunday’s matter than meets the eye. It could not be a matter of cash only. He constructed a watertight contract that guarantees the security of his job and payment of his entitlements no matter how long the relationship lasted.

Is he hoping that the Stephen Keshi kind of treatment, when he resigned in South Africa and was begged by the President of the country to return, would be extended to him?

That would be foolhardy. The difference between presidents Jonathan and Buhari is like that between the South Pole and the Sahara Desert!

Someone even hinted at a spiritual dimension, that Sunday’s incessant ill health since he joined the national team could be the handiwork of those around him that did not want him there and were using spiritual means to frighten and hound him and achieve their aim. I hope he did not fall for such balderdash.

The truth is that although coming at a wrong time (as Nigeria prepares to start its African Nations Cup and World Cup campaigns) this is not coming as a complete surprise considering recent cat and mouse games between Sunday and the NFF. This development is an accident waiting to happen.  There is no way such a frosty relationship would have lasted beyond the next few weeks.

Unfortunately, the implications are many and dire, and the hope now is that the NFF has the capacity to salvage what may be a fast sinking ship.

The other reports that the NFF is broke escalate the level of concern. The reported failure to pay Oliseh’s wages confirms this.

Whatever happened to the lofty goals, the bright ideas and the promises of getting corporate Nigeria to fund football by the current leadership of the NFF?

Whatever happened to the much-publicised sponsorships and contracts, including the Nike deal, that were to fetch the NFF millions of dollars?

Whatever happened to the World Cup revenues?

Why is the NFF still dependent on the government for much of its funding and yet demands its independence from government interference?

Without funds, little can be achieved. Funds are the oxygen of football.

This throws up once again the whole issue of the relationship between government, the NFF and football (albeit sports) development and promotion in Nigeria.

Back to Sunday Oliseh’s resignation and its implications.

Who will replace Sunday Oliseh?

One statement keeps recurring and haunting my thoughts, over and over again: ‘they always come back’.

To engage any Nigerian coach would inevitably be a return to a previous vomit? Which one of them has not failed in the past?

Incidentally, they always come back as in a musical game of chairs. The question is which one deserves it now?

My mind is already playing a mischievous dangerous game.

I know it will not happen now, but it will not be far-fetched to imagine Stephen Keshi preparing to return to the post he vacated not too long ago, justifiably dangling before all Nigerians his unequalled achievements in our football history!

But for now, one of two things will happen.

A few years in the doldrums, the memory tempered by time, with the support of one or two powerful persons in the technical committee of the present NFF, with some strategic media manipulation, anyone of the old, long-sacked former national coaches will find themselves back as new brides leading the national team to nowhere.

There is also the seemingly more attractive foreign coach option. Of course, we all know that there is no foreign coach out there ready and available that can guarantee the country the change that Nigerian football needs presently.

They will come, mesmerize with their skin colour and phony credentials, bluff their way through some easy matches, fall when the going gets tough, take away the scarce resources the NFF does not even have, and leave the country worse off than they met it!

So, forgive me. For once, I do not have the answer to who takes over from Oliseh.

I never thought that he would throw in the towel the way he did and this early.

I choose to believe Sunday weighed all his options before taking such a big decision.

For me as a writer and a sports analyst, I can only apologise to all Nigerians for being one of those that promoted the idea that Sunday Oliseh would make the ideal manager for the Super Eagles.

I believed completely that he had the intellectual capacity, the knowledge and the experience from being a player to have made a great and successful coach.

Unfortunately, the pressure in the game, one way or the other, became too much for him and he gave up the fight!

As things now stand, I admit I was wrong. I have learned my lesson. Next time, I shall keep my mouth firmly shut and siddon look!



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