Dan Amokachi… His ‘Third Time Defeat’
After Nigeria failed to qualify for the inaugural edition of the African Nations Championship (CHAN), which was hosted by Cote d’Ivoire in 2009, the Nigeria Football Federation (NFF), called on Coach Daniel Amokachi to tinker the team ahead the second edition.
In his playing days, Amokachi was a delight to watch, as his striking force gave the Super Eagles many victories in Africa and at global level. But the same cannot be said about ‘The Bull’ since he began his coaching career with the Eagles.
The Confederation of African Football (CAF) exclusively designed the CHAN championship, for African players who are active in their domestic leagues. The competition was creation by CAF in its response to the desire to revive and strengthen domestic leagues on the continent regularly weakened by a mass exodus of top players who leave their home countries to play for foreign teams.
The Black Stars of Ghana had stopped the Fatai Amao-led Eagles from qualifying for the first edition, and many soccer fans applauded the appointment of Amokachi as coach of the team in preparation for the second edition.
To them, Amokachi’s forceful play and dribbling skills in his days as player would be translated into coaching. They got more than they bargained for, as ‘The Bull’ failed to qualify the Eagles for the 2011 edition of the CHAN Championship hosted in Sudan.
Amokachi led the Eagles to suffer a 1-0 defeat in the hands of lowly rated Niger Republic in Niamey and could only manage a draw in the return leg at the Sani Abacha Stadium in Kano. It was a setback the NFF leadership could not bear, so Amokachi was sent packing.
After the Super Eagles failed to qualify for the 2015 AFCON in Equatorial Guinea, ‘Big Boss, Stephen Keshi was shoved aside, paving the way for his Assistant, Coach Amokachi, to try his managerial skills again. ‘
The Bull’ led the Eagles to a tour in the United Arab Emirates, where Nigeria was beaten by the Elephants of Cote d’Ivoire in Abu Dhabi. Though, Nigeria paraded a ‘Team B’ in that encounter, many Ivoirians felt satisfied that the Elephants succeeded in playing the Eagles in their own coins, since the 2-1 defeat they (Cote d’Ivoire) suffered in the hands of Nigeria in the city of Rustenburg, South Africa, in the quarterfinal of the 2013 African Cup of Nations.
The Elephants needed an 84th minute goal by Salomon Kalou to beat the Amokachi-led Eagles in that encounter. The team defeated Yemen 2-0 in Dubai four days later to round up its tour of UAE. With Keshi yet to resume duty, following delay in signing of his new contract, the NFF again saddled Amokachi with the responsibility of overseeing the Eagles in Wednesday’s friendly match against the Crane of Uganda at the Nest of Champions in Uyo, Akwa Ibom State.
As it was in the game against Niger Republic about four years ago in Niamey, and Cote d’Ivoire in Abu Dhabi in January, so it was in Uyo on Wednesday. On a day the NFF was looking forward to a positive result from the Eagles to pacify the government and people of Akwa Ibom State following the failure to qualify for the AFCON 2015, the Amokochi-led Eagles put every foots wrong.
Nigeria’s football record at the senior level was aging dealt an embarrassing blow by the Cranes of Uganda, a defeat Governor Godswill Akpabio described as ‘rubbish.’
The Ugandans scored from a sloppy Super Eagles defending, as Faruku Miya profited from a deflection by Akeem Latifu in the 80th minute to beat a sprawling Vincent Enyeama, who failed to palm away the ball. It was a very bad way to mark his centurion of games for Nigeria.
With the likes of Enyeama, Ahmed Musa, Ogenyi Onazi, Anthony Ujah, Omatsone Aluko, Aaron Samuel and Godfrey Oboabona on parade, many Nigerian fans were waiting to see the Eagles overrun the Ugandans, but the reverse was the case.
In particular, the defeat in the hands of Uganda was so painful to Governor Akpabio, as he stormed off the venue immediately after the game, lamenting that the team has not justified all the resources his state has been putting into hosting their games.
Akpabio said repeatedly as he stormed out of the venue saying: “this is rubbish. They shouldn’t bring this kind of nonsense here again. It is a shame that teams like Uganda is disgracing a country like Nigeria. This is rubbish.”
Though it was a friendly game, the NFF President, Amaju Pinnick, was also pained by the inability of the Super Eagles to beat Uganda. The NFF was said to have summoned a meeting with the players immediately after the game to address the dwindling performance of the national team.
An angry Pinnick was said to have told Amokachi and the players how he felt about the recent results, especially Nigeria’s inability to qualify for the 2015 Africa Cup of Nations and the recent spate of bad results. He also made it clear the NFF board was ready to do whatever it takes to get Nigeria back on track at senior level, but expects the players to buckle up too.
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