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Mabo, Izilien counsel NFF, as new Eagles’ coach emerges today

By Gowon Akpodonor
18 July 2016   |   1:23 am
As the Nigeria Football Federation (NFF), looks set to announce a new coach for the Super Eagles this evening, two former handlers of the female national team, Super Falcons...

As the Nigeria Football Federation (NFF), looks set to announce a new coach for the Super Eagles this evening, two former handlers of the female national team, Super Falcons, Coach Ismalia Mabo and Godwin Izilien, have warned that whoever picks the job must be given free hand to operate.

The NFF is expected to name the chief coach of Super Eagles today from among the three shortlisted. They are the Super Eagles’ caretaker coach Salisu Yusuf, former Ethiopia coach Tom Saintfiet, and Frenchman Paul Le Guen, who once coached the Lions of Cameroun.

Speaking with The Guardian yesterday, Mabo warned that it would be another wasteful venture, if the NFF is not ready to give the new man free hand to operate.

“If the NFF must bring in a foreign coach for the Super Eagles, they must ensure he is given a free hand,” Mabo said. “The NFF must also make sure that money is always available to pay his wages unlike the old style. The new coach must be ready to go round the country in search of talents for the national teams.”

On his part, coach Izilien said: “I will welcome the new coach if the NFF settles for Salisu Yusuf, but anything outside that will be a complete waste of money and I won’t be part of it.

“I have advised the NFF long before now that it will take a foreign coach two or three years to understand the Nigerian terrain. So what is the need bringing in a foreign coach for our 2018 World Cup qualifiers which will kick off in few months time? Like I said, it will be a complete waste of resources and I won’t be part of it,” Izilien added.

Two weeks ago, the NFF Technical and Development Committee pored over more than 20 applications before cutting the list to three.

According to the NFF, among the applicants for the Super Eagles job were Giovanni Solinas, Saintfiet, Hey Antoine, Mark Wotte, Yusuf, Ernesto Paulo Calvinho, Dorian Marin, and Le Guen. “Others are Miodrag Jesic, Perry Hansen, Ove Pedersen, Adebayo Lateef Kola, Sylvanus Okpala and Peter Ijeh. “The rest are Vladimir Petrovic-Pizon, Lodewijk de Kruif, Kenichi Yatsuhashi, Bjorn Frank Peters and Ricki Herbert.

Chairman of the NFF Technical and Development Committee, Chris Green said yesterday:

“We have concluded arrangements for the interview process to take place at the NFF secretariat on Monday and thereafter, we will forward the name of the successful candidate to the NFF Board, which will deliberate on it and thereafter make their decision public.”

Green made it clear the committee will only settle for the candidate they see as most qualified and capable of qualifying the Super Eagles for the 2018 FIFA World Cup finals in Russia.

The Guardian learnt yesterday that Frenchman, Le Guen, 52, is being favoured for the Eagles’ job. He played for Brest, Nantes and Paris Saint Germain (PSG) and won 17 caps for France, before coaching Rennes, Lyon, PSG (in France) and Glasgow Rangers (in Scotland).

He qualified the Indomitable Lions of Cameroun to the 2010 FIFA World Cup finals and also coached Oman.

On his part, Saintfiet, a 43-year-old Belgian, had coached the national teams of Namibia, Zimbabwe, Ethiopia, Yemen, Malawi and Togo. He has also worked with the Qatar national under-17 side, Young Africans FC of Tanzania and Free State Stars FC in South Africa.

Yusuf, 54, was capped by Nigeria at under-20 level and won FA Cup titles with El-Kanemi Warriors of Maiduguri as a player. He coached top clubs Kano Pillars, El-Kanemi Warriors and Enyimba FC, and assisted Super Eagles’ chief coaches Samson Siasia and Stephen Keshi (who died last month). Yusuf was caretaker coach for two friendly matches, which the Eagles won against Mali and Luxembourg in Europe at the end of May.