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Our coaches should learn to have integrity like Udemezue – Disu


Tajudeen Disu

Tajudeen Disu

Former international, Tajudeen Disu, has condemned the idea of coaches collecting gratification from players before they are fielded. Over the years, there have been insinuations that some indigenous coaches demand and collect kickbacks from players and football agents before been called to camp.

The Nigeria Football Federation (NFF) recently appointed German tactician, Gernot Rohr, as the new coach of the Super Eagles, after more than six years of tinkering with the local coaches.

Coach Samson Siasia was appointed to take over from Swedish coach, Coach Lar Lagerback, following the country’s dismal outing at the 2010 World Cup in South Africa.

Speaking with The Guardian recently, the former administrator of Gateway Football Club of Abeokuta, Ogun State, wondered why a coach with the privilege of handling the Super Eagles would want personal interest to override the general interest in a country where football has become the opium of the people.

“At times, it beats my imagination when I hear that some coaches collect stipends from either players or their agents in order to be featured in matches. I hear this even extend to crucial matches where the nation expects much from both the players and the coach during qualification for major tournaments.

“If truly it happens, then the choice of a foreign coach is not misplaced after all. A foreign coach as the handler of our senior national team will always be better since he would not allow sentiment to becloud his sense of judgment. Definitely, he would always want to come here and make a mark in order to make himself marketable and also boost his resume. Aside from these suggestions about our coaches, I still believe we have great coaches in the land, who can compete with their counterpart in any part of the world if only they can drop the idea of this self gratification with the right enable environment,” he said.

While recalling the days of the late former coach of the then Green Eagles, Christopher Udemezue, who he said was one of the finest coaches that has ever come out of the nation, Disu, who came into limelight playing for the Flying Eagles in the early 1980, said he would always live to remember Udemezue.

“I remember as the captain of the Lagos State team then to the National Sports Festival where we lost in the quarterfinal of the football event. Despite not qualifying for the final, Coach Udemezue still picked 10 players from the Lagos team. That shows you how good a coach can be regardless of our position.

“This was a coach who called the bluff of players considered as stars in those days. It does not matter if you are Ibo, Hausa, Yoruba, all that mattered to him was getting good and the right players that would do the job for him with ease. He was a no nonsense coach. You will see Coach Udemezue at National Sports Festival, YSFON and secondary schools competitions scouting for good players. I wish this generation of coaches can imitate and learn from him. I am making reference to him now, because of what he did then,” he said.

The Director of the National Association of Nigerian Footballers (NANF) and Chairman of the Lagos Players Union, however, said that as a former footballer, he has always wanted and supported the coaches to be at the helm of affairs of the Eagles. We do not need to look elsewhere.

“We have been clamouring for the local coaches in the country, but the signal that I a getting now has shown that these coaches themselves are not helping matter. One thing I know for sure is that this generation of coaches is not better than the one we had in the past. Everything about coaches in the past was about integrity, now they are too conscious of money.

“Maybe it is because there is too much money in the game and everybody is trying to grab whatever he can as fast as possible. The administrators themselves are not helping the situation if one goes dip into what transpires in the system. One thing I know for sure is that some of these administrators too are agents to some of these players just as some coaches are agents too to some players,” Disu said.

The player, noted for his defensive role in the defunct Abiola Babes of Abeokuta, said he wished he had evidence of such act.

“The problem that I have is that I do not have evidence to buttress it. I know very well that as much as these coaches are agents to some players so also the administrators. They cannot deny being agents to some of these players, because they also impose their players on these coaches. But my advice to the NFF is that any coach alleged to have either demanded or collected bribe from any player or football agent should be investigated and if proven banned to serve as deterrent to others. The earlier we do this, the better it will be for the upcoming coaches who want to pursue a career unblemished,” he remarked.

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