Thursday, December 3, 2009


While most of the other countries are already putting finishing touches towards preparations for next year’s Africa Cup of Nations, which holds between January 10 and 31, 2010 in Angola; the Nigeria Football Federation, NFF, seem more preoccupied with finding a replacement for Super Eagles coach, Shaibu Amodu, ahead of the 2010 FIFA World Cup in South Africa, slated for June of that same year. For the Nations’ Cup, now known as the Orange Africa Cup of Nations for sponsorship reasons, the Super Eagles of Nigeria have been drawn in Group C, alongside defending champions, Egypt, Benin and Mozambique.

Although recent reports have it that the NFF have given Amodu a breather to continue his job unhindered; if recent history is anything to go by, the extension of his contract as Super Eagles’ coach might largely depend on the team’s performance at the Nations’ Cup.

“It may depend on how he performs at the Nations’ Cup in Angola,” said Toyin Ibitoye, a sports analyst on Amodu’s chances of continuing his job after January, 2010.

Despite qualifying the Eagles for the World Cup for the second time in his career, Amodu’s reign has come under the knife. In 2001, Amodu was at the helms when Nigeria qualified for the 2002 World Cup in Korea/Japan, but he was sacked midway after the Eagles finished third at the 2002 Africa Cup of Nations in Mali. Eventually, Adegboye Onigbinde was brought in to replace him.

This time however, heavyweight names such as Russia’s coach, Guus Hiddink, and former Germany’s coach, Jurgen Klinsmann, had been bandied about as potential candidates for Amodu. Although Amodu seem to have received the blessing of the football house, it would take more than that to ensure a good outing for his team. “If we win the Nations’ Cup, it would be a surprise,” said Ibitoye. The Eagles, he noted, are not exactly “champions’ stuff” at the moment.

However, he noted that, “The Nations cup is a very open competition. It could be anybody’s game, depending on how well you prepare,” he said. Calls for Amodu’s replacement have already created some form of distraction towards a hitch-free preparation for the tournament.

But, just like they did with a last day dramatic qualification for the 2010 World Cup, Amodu and his team might have other tricks up their sleeves.

Nigeria’s most recent success at both the World Cup and the Nation’s Cup came under a foreign coach - Dutchman, Clemens Westerhof - who led the Eagles to win the 1994 Africa Nations’ Cup and an impressive second round finish in their debut World Cup showing later that same year. If given the chance and maximum support by the football authorities, could Amodu match or surpass that record?

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