Saturday, February 20, 2010


Football has been described as a theatre by fans worldwide, largely due to its suspense and entertainment qualities. But, going by the increasing number of names on the wish list of the Nigeria Football Federation (NFF), the search for a foreign technical adviser to coach the Super Eagles, for the umpteenth time, has seemingly transcended into a circus (and a theatre of the absurd).

While other countries seem to be in the final stages of preparations, Nigeria is still searching for a foreign coach to lead the Super Eagles to the FIFA World Cup in South Africa. At least 20 names have been mentioned, at one time of the other, in the NFF search for a foreign coach. Now Arrigo Sachhi (former Italy coach) and Glen Hoddle (former England coach) have been thrown into the bandwagon of 'probables'

Although, recent reports have it that former coach of Sweden, Lars Lagerback; former Ghana coach, Ratomir Djukovic and Qatar coach Bruno Metsu are top contenders for the Eagles’ coaching job (after the Eagles’ job offer was turned down by Guus Hiddink, the newly appointed Turkish coach, Louis Van Gaal and Giovanni Trappatoni, coach of Ireland); the country’s football federation authorities have conjured different names at different times , hoping that one of them would agree to lead the Super Eagles team to the 2010 FIFA World Cup slated for South Africa in June. The NFF wish list had also included names such as Frank Rijkaard, Herve Renard, Claude Leroy, Bonfere Jo, Englishman Peter Taylor and Egyptian coach Hassan Shehata. While the likes of John Barnes, Klaus Topmoeller, Dragoslav Stepanovic and former England coach, Sven Goran Ericksson filed in their application without the NFF asking. This comes on the heels of the ‘transfer’ of Shaibu Amodu to coach the Eagles’ B team – created to accommodate local-based players, despite meeting the set target of reaching the semi-finals of 2010 Nations Cup in Angola.

For many Nigerians, the NFF indecision to replace Amodu swiftly, with the bandying of different names of coaches they never formally contacted in the first place, might not to do good for the country’s cause of performing creditably well at the World Cup.

“It would take only a miracle for Nigeria to perform at the World Cup with current level of preparation,” said Super Eagles midfielder Seyi Olofinjana on brilafm sports radio. Olofinjana lamented the fact that while other countries already have their handlers in place and have continued earnest preparations for the World Cup, Nigeria is still searching for one. “We are talking about a World Cup which will hold in June and we still don’t have a coach,” he queried. Nigeria remains the only country among the thirty two World Cup bound countries without a ‘standing’ coach in place to lead them.

Patrick Ekeji, Director-General of the National Sports Commission (NSC), Taiwo Ogunjobi and Dominic Iorfa are members of the NFF executive committee saddled with the responsibility of meeting the coaching candidates in London. According the NFF, three names would be decided upon by February 26 while the new Eagles’ coach would be unveiled two days later, on February 28. And if Bolaji Omo-Oba, the NFF secretary General, is to be believed, whoever is finally appointed as the Eagles’ World Cup coach would have to make do with watching his team from the stands when the Eagles take on Paraguay in a friendly match billed for March 3 in London. “We cannot wait for the new coach because there is no time, so we will call up the players and the team will resume camp for the game,” he said last week, while adding that “there will definitely be somebody in charge for the game”. Even Paraguay have reportedly pulled out of the friendly, preferring to play Athletic Bilbao instead.

Although the identity of that person remain uncertain until February 28, Ojo-Oba’s words just reechoed the need why the NFF should act fast on appointing a coach to lead the Super Eagles to the World Cup – time is running out.

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