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Sunday, June 23, 2024

Super Eagles and translucent glass house

By Kunle Awosiyan

The NFF Technical Director, Augustine Eguavoen has assumed the position of interim Super Eagles Coach in the last three years.

His performance at the 2021 African Cup of Nation, AFCON, endeared him to me until he failed to move beyond second round when he lost to Tunisia.

He was returned to his office as the technical director while the federation sought a new coach and eventually hired Jose Peseiro.

The Portuguese took the Super Eagles to the AFCON final but failed to win the cup.

This is the best he has achieved in his career but on Friday he quit unceremoniously over poor salary that the NFF offered him to renew the contract.

The federation could only afford $50,000 per month despite that Peseiro surpassed the semi final target set for him at the last AFCON.

That he should continue with the same salary made the Portuguese to throw in the towel. He is done with Nigeria as he seeks greener pastures. I learnt he had seven offers on his table.

I’m eagerly waiting to see through the Glass House called NFF and what it intends to turn Eguavoen to, as the Super Eagles prepare for FIFA World Cup qualification.

I want to see how transparent the Glass House is in its search for a quality coach for the Super Eagles, judging by how much it has budgeted for Peseiro.

According to investigation, every foreign coach hired by NFF is a cash cow for some executive members of the NFF and that is why the federation will always prefer an expatriate.

I can boldly say that Peseiro accepted the $50,000 to lead Nigeria to AFCON because he wanted to use the quality in the team to boost his profile.

Yes, he experimented with the lads and got a result for himself. Today Peseiro is the new bride in town even though Nigeria failed to win the cup. He wins, NFF loses.

No good coach who knows his onions will not want this present Nigeria squad with so much qualities but then some NFF executive members want to have a cut of the bargain.

This is the real problem that has continued to spell doom on our football. It is corruption in the translucent glass house.

If Nigeria could beat Cote D’Ivoire in the preliminaries of the AFCON 2023 and lost to the same team in the final, then the tactics of the manager Peseiro was inferior to the tactics of Emerse Fae, the Ivorian coach.

Fae was a former midfielder for Cote d’Ivoire who worked as an assistant under a foreign coach, Jean-Louis Gasset when Nigeria beat his team in the preliminaries.

He studied the tactics of Peseiro to outclass the Super Eagles but Peseiro failed to study him to beat the Elephants of Cote d’Ivoire.

It is clear that Fae understands African football more than Peseiro when he told his guys to pound pressure on the Super Eagles to get results. He got the result not really from tactics but from his ability to read the match.

In 2019, under Coach Gernot Rohr, the Algeria coach, Djamel Belmadi, used the same pressure to kick out Nigeria from reaching the final. A late free kick sealed the victory for the Algerians under an indigenous coach against Nigeria foreign coach, Gernor Rohr.

In 2021, it took Aliou Cissé, another African coach the ability to read match from the African eye to win for the first time AFCON for his country.

For three consecutive AFCON, African coaches had won for their countries and I think it is time for Nigeria to retrace its step and revamp the glorious performance of late Stephen Keshi who did not only win AFCON in 2013 but also led Nigeria to knockout stage in 2014 world cup.

Keshi used both tactics and African football mentality to win for the third time,AFCON for Nigeria. He set target to win unlike Peseiro who played to meet semi final target and keep his job.

We have quality coaches in Emmanuel Amuneke and a few others who can deliver, having learnt the mentality of African football.

But my fear is the translucent nature of the Glass House that allows light to shine but will not permit it to pass through. Let us know the real nature of politics that is going on inside the glass house.

By Kunle Awosiyan

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