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Wilfred Shiaondo: It’s hard to say the value Finidi added to Super Eagles

A football scout, Wilfred Shiaondo Orban, popularly called ‘Osas’ has sensationally declared that the immediate past coach of the Super Eagles, Finidi George, didn’t add…

A football scout, Wilfred Shiaondo Orban, popularly called ‘Osas’ has sensationally declared that the immediate past coach of the Super Eagles, Finidi George, didn’t add much value to the team. In this interview with Trust Sports, the scout who works with Atta Aneke’s Players Management Group (PMG) spoke on why the Super Eagles faltered in their last two World Cup qualifiers, the type of coach the Super Eagles deserve, the state of Nigeria’s elite league and the recent victory of Enugu Rangers in the NPFL.

How disappointed were you with the outing of the Super Eagles in the last two World Cup qualifiers? 

No doubt, I was very disappointed, especially considering how important the matches were to us as a country. The Super Eagles went into the two matches with a deficit, so expectations were that they would recover the lost ground after initial draws with Lesotho and Zimbabwe. So, when they fired blank, most of us were disappointed.

What would you say was responsible for the underwhelming performance?

 I think there were too many distractions around the team, administratively and otherwise, which ultimately led to the players’ lack of passionate commitment and loss of concentration.

What do you think should be done to bring the derailed qualifiers back on track?  

That’s up to the Nigeria Football Federation (NFF). The issue surrounding who should be hired or brought in to head the team should be resolved quickly. The NFF shouldn’t procrastinate too much before they appoint the next Super Eagles coach.

You relate closely with some of the Super Eagles players. Would you say they are patriotic enough? 

I think they are. Considering how far they come all the way from their respective bases to honour their invitations to the national team, they deserve appreciation. But, you know, these lads are also human, and I can tell you that without motivation, their patriotism will always amount to nothing. They need to be adequately motivated to bring out the true spirit of patriotism in them. 

Some Nigerians faulted the appointment of Finidi George as Super Eagles coach. Would you say it was a mistake to appoint him? 

The NFF knew what the team needed, and they opted for Finidi George, which means he met the criteria for the job. Personally, I can’t say if it was a mistake or not. 

Will it be right to hold him responsible for the lackluster performance of the Super Eagles in the two World Cup qualifiers? 

Who else? He was the man standing in the dugout. So, if the team had done well, he would have been given the flowers, and if the team failed as they did, he should be held responsible. 

The debate over indigenous or foreign coaches for the Super Eagles is not ending. Where do you stand?

It’s not just about indigenous or foreign coaches. It’s about a capable hand who knows exactly what the team needs to be stable and productive with positive results. We need a technically sound coach who will produce a formidable squad that will meet with the yearnings of the over 200 million football loving Nigerians. 

What are the qualities you feel a Super Eagles coach should possess?

Like I said earlier, he must be technically sound and experienced enough to handle the Super Eagles. Nigeria is a powerhouse in world football. So, any coach to be appointed to handle the Super Eagles coach should possess sufficient ability to unite the players, and make them realize how important it is to be considered for a call-up to represent the nation as a Super Eagles player. 

What are the things that Finidi did in his short spell that you feel should be sustained by his successor?

Absolutely nothing. He probably didn’t prepare himself for the job before being appointed. The new coach will have to start on a clean slate. He didn’t add much value to the Super Eagles. Maybe he did when he served as assistant coach but as a substantive coach, it is difficult to say.

Nigerians are divided over Osimhen’s verbal attack on Finidi. What is your take on the topical issue?

I think Osimhen is a patriot, but should have adopted a little diplomacy in expressing his points, as the situation was a highly delicate and sensitive one. But then, he’s human. I heard the NFF has stepped in, so I hope the federation will find a balance, so that both parties will forge on without holding anything against each other.

The clamour for inclusion of home based players in Super Eagles has remained strong. What is your take on this? 

The league is far below what it should be in modern football. It can’t be compared with what we had some 20, 15, or even 10 years ago. In terms of quality, and organization. So, if not for sentiments, there shouldn’t be such clamour.

The 2024 NPFL season will end on Sunday (tomorrow). What is your brief assessment of the season?

The officiating has greatly improved. Now results are achieved based on the effort put in by the players. But we must not over-emphasise on the improvement in officiating only. The league needs more coordination and organization to attract commercial values, such as advertisements and endorsements. For now what is on ground is a far cry from what is obtainable in other climes.

In concrete terms, what are the areas that should be improved upon immediately?

More sponsorship deals and television rights to enable many football loving Nigerians who can’t possibly travel always to watch the games live, to watch it on their television sets.

Enugu Rangers have emerged as the 2024 NPFL Champions. Will you say they deserve their 8th title?

Well, it was a very close and tight race. It was almost impossible to even predict that they would emerge the winners, but I think the coach and the people never relented. Moreover, some opportunities came in when the clubs that were tipped to possibly win the league started dropping vital points, and they wasted no time to capitalise on the opportunities. So, I will say it was a well-deserved achievement for the Fidelis Ilechukwu led Rangers.

What does it mean to work with the famous football agent, Atta Aneke?

Wonderful. A lifetime experience that maybe, only in my autobiography, will be expressed vividly someday. 

Of course, there is no work environment without challenges, but I think what I have learnt working with Mr. Atta Aneke will last with me for a lifetime. He’s a leader with so much positivity. He is a selfless man who treats people with maximum respect, regardless of their personalities or status. He cares for everyone around him.

 

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