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Race for Super Eagles’ plum job hots up

It is an open secret the Nigeria Football Federation (NFF) is preparing to appoint a coach to replace Jose Peseiro as Head Coach of the…

It is an open secret the Nigeria Football Federation (NFF) is preparing to appoint a coach to replace Jose Peseiro as Head Coach of the Super Eagles before the resumption of the 2026 FIFA World Cup qualifiers. This is as a result of the expiration of the Portuguese’s contract.

To this end, the football federation invited applications from coaches to fill the existing vacancy and on Thursday, the technical committee of the NFF met in Abuja to scrutinize the applications that have been submitted.

Already, so many coaches led by former players of the national team have been linked with the Super Eagles job. So, there is a mixture of experienced coaches and promising newcomers, each with their unique approach to football management.

It is said over 50 coaches have expressed their interest in leading the three-time African champions but it is unlikely that a coach will be appointed before Friday, March 22, when the AFCON 2023 runners-up will face the Black Stars of Ghana in a friendly match in Marrakech, Morocco.

Despite several Nigerian coaches – including Emmanuel Amuneke, George Finidi, Daniel Amokachi, Sunday Oliseh, Salisu Yusuf, Sylvanus Okpala and a host of others showing interest in the top job, chances are that the NFF may decide go for another expatriate coach for the Super Eagles.

However, if the NFF decides to import a coach for the senior national team, the move might offend some leading football stakeholders like the 1980 Africa Cup of Nations winner, Chief Segun Odegbami, who has charged the NFF to prioritise appointing a Nigerian as Head Coach of the Super Eagles.

Since Nigeria won her first AFCON trophy in 1980 under a Brazilian Oto Gloria, 10 foreign coaches have handled the men’s national team. It will be recalled that only the Dutch tactician, Clemence Westerhof, guided the Super Eagles to glory at the 1994 AFCON.

Therefore, Odegbami has charged the NFF to consider only top Nigerian coaches for the Super Eagles job. The 1980 AFCON top scorer is convinced that indigenous coaches are qualified enough and will be more passionate about the national assignment than their foreign counterparts.

“Nigeria must now place her destiny in the hands of qualified and patriotic Nigerians,” Odegbami wrote in his column in the Complete Sports.

“No more foreign coaches in Nigeria! Let us sink or swim with Nigerians, even in football,” he declared.

Similarly, Chairman, Professional Footballers Association of Nigeria (PFAN), Harrison Jalla, has urged the Nigeria Football Federation (NFF) to look inwards in choosing the new head coach for the Super Eagles.

Jalla, who said this while addressing newsmen in Lagos, noted it was time an indigenous coach took over as the Head Coach of the Super Eagles. He said that the NFF had engaged foreign coaches for more than eight years without substantial results to show for it.

“It is time to engage our indigenous coaches with the same terms and conditions given to Gernot Rohr and Jose Peseiro.

“The performance of African coaches in the last three editions of AFCON is a clear indicator that African coaches are better than their European counterparts.”

So, the race for the Super Eagles job is gathering momentum and even as the likes of Sunday Oliseh, Samson Siasia, Sylvanus Okpala, Salisu Yusuf and Ndubuisi Egbo and other applicants boast of CVs that can be tempting, they are certainly not as favoured as some of the frontrunners like Amuneke and Antonio Conceicao.

Therefore, Trust Sports takes a cursory look at the top five contenders for the position of Head Coach of the Super Eagles.

Emmanuel Amuneke

On social media, two out of every three football fans want Amuneke, who was the assistant coach to Augustine Eguaveon when Nigeria lost to Ghana in their bid to qualify for the 2022 World Cup. Before that, he had made history as the first coach to qualify Tanzania for the Nations Cup after over thirty years of patient wait.

He also coached the likes of Victor Osimhen and Samuel Chukwueze in the Under 17 National team that won Gold for Nigeria at the FIFA U-17 World Cup in Chile. A sound tactician, Amuneke is also a known member of FIFA’s Technical Group.

Micheal Nsien

He is currently the Head Coach of the USA U-16 and Under 19 national football teams. He comes well equipped with a rich CV and has been getting a lot of publicity both locally and internationally.

Antonio Conceicao

Portuguese born, former Cameroon National team coach who was sacked by Fecafoot in 2022, is the top name on the list of those who still feel that Nigeria must employ a foreign coach to replace Jose Peseiro. The 63-year-old, lost the chance to coach Nigeria two years ago as the NFF chose another Portuguese in Jose Peseiro for the plum job.

Daniel Amokachi

Daniel Amokachi’s desire to become the Super Eagles’ Head Coach is no doubt fuelled by his past experience with the team. His contribution to the 2013 AFCON triumph, alongside Steven Keshi of blessed memories is evidence of his coaching prowess. The former Everton star was part of the Super Eagles team that won the 1994 African Nations Cup. He also helped win the Olympic championship in 1996, scoring in the final against Argentina.

Finidi George

The 52-year old former Super Eagles star served as the Super Eagles assistant coach under Jose Peseiro. He also holds the position of Head Coach at Nigeria Professional Football League (NPFL) club Enyimba F.C. Finidi led Enyimba FC to the league title last year. The former Ajax star having demonstrated his mettle throughout his successful time with Enyimba F.C. now wants to go a step higher by coaching the Super Eagles.

However, even as the names of those coaches who have applied for the Super Eagles job are now well known, there may be a surprise twist in the end as the NFF may be keeping other names close to its chest.

Whatever the football federation is doing concerning the hiring of a new coach must be done fast because the Super Eagles will play against bitter rivals South Africa in the 2026 FIFA World Cup qualifier in June.

Therefore, Nigerians want the NFF to appoint a substantive coach before that crucial encounter as the Super Eagles aim to avoid the disappointment of missing out on the 2022 FIFA World Cup in Qatar.

For now the suspension, anxiety, speculations and expectations over who will replace Peseiro as the Head Coach of the Super Eagles continues.

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