Monday, December 31, 2007


If I had to cry gently gently, I’d rather do it for my dear Eagle. If I had to sob gently gently I'd rather do it for my Super Eagle.But why are we here? Where are we going? What are we doing wrong?I am tired of the discordant tunes coming out of Nigeria sports circle soon after our match with Brazil. There is something wrong, I mean inherently wrong with fickle fans!!!!

Someone said we (Nigerians) as a people have short memories. That might have been said in a political setting, but we are seeing it heralded in every sector of our lives and now it has crept into our newspapers. Even our journalist, supposed custodian of history, oft commits this historical hara-kiri. Why are we always afraid to speak the truth? Why are we always pedantic with our primordial position? Why do we settle for "he go better" when there is nothing in the horizon to herald something else?

Most importantly why are we afraid of change? We have said if it doesn't work fix it; if it's broke and beyond repair, face facts, don't keep it get another one! Period!Folks, do we want something positive for Nigeria soccer, or we are content with being the king of Africa? Do we want to remain perennial African kings with no plan for the future? Do we want to go the way of Ghana who conquered and trounced Africa for over a decade and then went to oblivion? Do we want to be like Cameroon, that will rout all Africa opposition and then walk into the WC with it's best team playing with little or no experience against world class opposition? Lets face it do we want our game stagnated? Marooned on the island of coaching incompetence? These are not questions and issues of foreign coach versus Indigenous coach?

At this moment, none of Johannes Bonfrere, Westerhoff, AO, Amodu, and Chairman Christian Chukwu can help our game.The truth is none of our first team player’s club will ever hire any of the above listed coaches for their clubs. Can you guys imagine Bolton, or Lens, or Everton, or Chelsea or WBA, or Belgrade, or Inter, or Portsmouth, or Schalke etc hiring Adegboye Onigbinde, Johannes Bonfrere, Clemens Westerhoff or Chairman Christian Chukwu? So why do we settle for something less for our Super Eagle? We pay top dollars to get the best expatriates into Nigeria to teach in our universities in the early '60s before we had the opportunities of mass-producing Nigeria professors. No one complain then that hiring professor Gower, an eminent professor of Company and Business Law, widely respected worldwide is bad for Nigeria when he was hired in the '60s. He ended up producing the likes of Professor Akanki, Okorodudu-Fubara among others; today the latter are top professors worldwide. When Gower was going to be hired, Nigerian did not say, no we can't afford it, lets go for a third rate professor from Holland or Japan, we did not say "lets get an indigenous professors, reason, being that we had none.

Just as we don’t complain when we paid top dollars to expatriate training Nigeria petrochemical engineers off the coast of Niger Delta; because we know we are not yet there. We do not have the technical “know how” to do some of these job with our limited personnel! And to face reality, that is where we stand today with our soccer, we just don't have an indigenous coach that is up to the task. We have tried our best; after all who else do we have left? Onigbinde is the first coach to win any African medal for us, when he won Silver medal with our 1984 national team. But lo and behold, we found out in Japan that he is not up to it against world-class opposition. Amodu won more club championship in African than any other indigenous coach in Nigeria and as it was made evident in the African Nations club held tagged Mali 2002, his managerial abilities was suspect, his control of our ego-filled players is zilch! Nada! He lost complete control of the team at one point.

Chairman Christian Chukwu (CCC) is akin to our very own Kevin Keegan, he played top flight football as a player, he traveled far and wide as a coach inside Africa, with stints in Kenya and as assistant to Westerhoff, but pitted against world class opposition like Brazil, he completely lost the plot. He could not make substitutions that can turn the fate of its team around. Whilst the Brazilians coach talked about watching our last match against Malawi, CCC only preparation is to talk about this rebuilding! What rebuilding? (If I may ask) Something he has been doing for more than "God knows when!"

There is no doubt that he is surely a "world class" coach in the league of African coaches. What used to be the other doubt, which is no longer a doubt, is that he stands no chance when pitted against stiff and much more competent opposition. The Brazil game expose CCC’s underbelly. To put it in Warri’s distinct parlance “chicken yansh don expose”. His reading of game was suspect, his substitution was atrocious; strategy was none existence and his formation is Neanderthal!

He makes the matter worse for himself by his reticent. To him it is 4-4-2 or nothing. There is no adjustment! Whilst his formations might work against naive opponents like Malawi, Angola and Namibia, it will surely crumble against Egypt, Cameroon or Morocco. Even if it survives the latter, what will happen on the world stage! Disaster! Did I hear you yell?The ball is no longer in Chukwu's court; it is in our courts too! We need to cry out now, before it is too late, we need to insist that a world-class coach be hired for our dear SE.

We can't afford to wait until 3 months to African Nations Cup or WC when NFA will have another genuine excuse to say; well all good coaches are unavailable at this moment so we would go for another Bora Milutinovic. No way! If we need a good coach it is time to hire one, no more trial and error.

My call is not to do away with CCC, infact we need the likes of CCC, Eguavoen and Amokachi to understudy the World class coach we would hire, just like AO learn from Alan Hawkes.The time to act is now! To quote one of my friends from the revered Nigeria’s soccer discussion forum ( “We can choose to either wallow ourselves in mediocrity on the short run and drop off the football map on the long run by sticking with the tried and failed system, or bite the bullet and invest in a coach that can led us back to the glory days.”

Postscript: Since I wrote this piece in June of 2003, it is as if I was “talking to deaf ears,” Nigeria sports administrators are still in doldrums. Yes, Chairman Christian Chukwu was fired after he, as predicted failed to lead us to the 2006 World Cup in Germany. In fact he lost the World Cup ticket to lowly Angola. So pitted against African minnows, he could not even measured up. We have since had Augustine Eguaevoen led the Super Eagles and lately we again hired another “journeyman” coach in Berti Vogst. The latter came to the job carrying the baggage of failure from Scotland. His main test will be the African Nations Cup coming up in January 2008.

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