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Oliseh: NFF’s ‘Guardiola’ turns villain

On Wednesday, July 15 2016, when NFF president Amaju Pinnick was to unveil Sunday Oliseh as the next coach of the Super Eagles, he literally…

On Wednesday, July 15 2016, when NFF president Amaju Pinnick was to unveil Sunday Oliseh as the next coach of the Super Eagles, he literally struggled to find appropriate adjectives to describe the young coach.
Although it appeared a daunting task for the smooth talking NFF president, he did not disappoint Oliseh and his teeming fans as he eloquently extolled the credentials of the former Super Eagles captain.
Addressing the gathering which included the sporting press and other football stakeholders at the Media centre of the Abuja national stadium, Pinnick happily said Nigeria had landed one of the best coaches in the world.
He said “Today is another epoch making day in the history of football development in the country. Today, we present to the world, Sunday Oliseh.
“He is technically sound and he is the Pep Guardiola of Africa. We also know that as a tactician, he is in the class of Arsene Wenger.
“We have confidence in his ability because he has the experience on and off the pitch. He is here to redefine our playing pattern.
“When we were looking for a foreign technical adviser, our friends in both CAF and FIFA told us we have one among us and that person is Sunday Oliseh.
“We should not forget his contribution as player in the national team. He gave Nigeria one of the most brilliant goals ever and from what we have discovered from our discussion so far, we have no option than to pick him,” he said.
NFF’s confidence in Oliseh was so overwhelming that despite his lack of coaching experience, he was handed a three year contract with other attractive packages like a decent accommodation and a posh car.
Although a sound analyst and a member of the FIFA technical study group, Oliseh had not coached any national team so most Nigerians were very sceptical about his ability to lead the Eagles.
Oliseh himself played safe on the day of his unveiling when he said he was not the messiah as portrayed by his employers. He, however, assured that he was going to give his 150 per cent to the job.
The Delta State born football tactician returned home in a blaze of glory but Nigerians who know his antecedents as a player said his romance with the present NFF will not last the distance.
He is said to be a man who does not shy away from speaking his mind when he feels strongly about anything. It will be recalled that he missed out of the 2002 FIFA World Cup in Japan/Korea because he chose to fight for his team mates.
And true to type, the moment he took over as Super Eagles captain, Oliseh’s innate traits surfaced as he took decisions which only a courageous coach would take.
Without any qualms, he stripped Vincent Enyeama of Eagles captaincy and appointed a rather reserved Ahmed Musa as the new Eagles captain. He attempted to shut the door in the face of some players he felt have over stayed their welcome.
For instance, Emmanuel Emenike needed nobody to tell him that under the coach, he would at best warm the bench. Thus, he quickly called time on his international career. It was becoming obvious that the hitherto untouchables in the Eagles would be demystified.
Meanwhile, even as Oliseh stilled enjoyed the full backing of the NFF, some football fans, including some of those who supported his appointment began to sing a different tune.
This was not unexpected because Eagles had played some matches and the instant improvement they craved for was not forthcoming. 
Oliseh’s firs match in charge of the Eagles was a drab 0-0 draw against Tanzania in Dar es Salaam in the 2017 AFCON qualifier.
The Eagles returned home to beat Niger Republic 2-0 in an international friendly game but most of Oliseh’s critics saw how his Eagles laboured to beat their less fancied opponents.
Interestingly, even Nigerians started to question Oliseh’s managerial and tactical abilities, the NFF remained faithful that the ‘Pep Guardiola of Africa’ will sooner than later silence his critics.
Unfortunately, the Eagles poor outing in the 2016 Africa Nations Championship has triggered off a cold war between the NFF and Oliseh. At the moment, there appears to be no love lost between NFF and the Eagles gaffer.
It all started where Oliseh who is known for blunt talk failed to manage the sagging image of the NFF when he declared that his team was starved of the required support from the football federation.
Before the Eagles played their last group match against Guinea, Oliseh had said his players were like cars running on empty tanks. The NFF took serious exception to his comment but managed to down play the effect.
And in his post match conference after the Eagles crashed out of the 2016 CHAN, Oliseh praised his players and reiterated the fact that they were not given the necessary motivation to go beyond where they stopped.
From Kigali, Oliseh boarded the next available flight to Belgium where he is said to be attending to his failing health. And reports have it that the embattled coach is thinking about quitting his job.
Meanwhile, the NFF is left thinking about what to do with the coach they trusted blindly. Consequently, it is said in order not to be caught napping, the football federation is favourably disposed to scrutinizing credentials of expatriate coaches who have indicated interest in taking over if Oliseh throws in the towel or is given the boot.
Sources in the NFF have also hinted that as plan B, the present coach of the National U-23 team, Samson Siasia and the coach of the victorious Golden Eaglets, Emmanuel Amuneke are on standby in case Oliseh decides to quit.
Statistically, between July 2015 to now, Oliseh has prosecuted 12 matches with the Super Eagles, winning 6, drawing 4 and losing only two. This may not be a very bad performance but Nigerians are definitely not impressed with the way the Eagles have been playing.
Moreover, as a world acclaimed football analyst, Oliseh had repeatedly said a coach is as good as his last game. His last game ended in defeat that has precipitated the ongoing cold war between him and his employers.
For now, it is not very clear, if Oliseh will remain to lead the Eagles in the double header against the Pharaohs of Egypt in March.
However, what is certain and non-negotiable is the yearning of Nigerian football fans for 2017 AFCON and 2018 World Cup tickets which must be delivered by the NFF.

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