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Thursday, July 18, 2024

Super Eagles: Finidi and the perfect victim card

By Kunle Awosiyan

If one can play a victim card, he will easily steal the hearts of many Nigerians. Nigerians are some of the most emotional people on this earth.

Hit a beautiful car on the road, it will only take “Idobale” and little shed of tears to escape the wrath of the car owner.

In fact, the crowd will tell the owner, “Haa, he has been begging now. See, he is even crying and prostrating.”

I can’t explain how we are wired. We shed tears easily for those who act as victims.

With the outburst of our hardworking striker, Victor Osimhen, against a former coach, Finidi George, the chorus changed and emotion began to flow the way of the coach.

Quickly, many suspended the story of a striker who nearly killed himself on the pitch at the last African Cup of Nation and began to castigate him for disrespecting the coach.

It’s not but to reprimand Osimhen anyway but the issue is bigger than the footballer’s reaction.

They reminded him that the coach was a legendary player and and now a sacred cow even though he dropped the Super Eagles down the ladder of success.

George knew Nigerians well that it would only take a statement to shift the blame from him and put on another person and so he offered a phrase to repaint the narrative, “I cannot be begging anybody to play for Nigeria.’

He said he never mentioned names but the report by journalists mentioned names and Osimhen was among.

No doubt, Osimhen was to quick to anger in a bid to clear his name, this shouldn’t erase the fact that George failed to manage the situation as a leader.

His inability to manage star players caused him his job not the refusal of the star players to honour the invitation.

George may have done well as a footballer with a lot of exposure, I observe his complexity, which for me is a bad attribute for any leader.

He worked with Jose Peseiro but failed to put his foot down and create an identity for himself. I recall that at one time, a former player and coach, Austen Eguavoen worked as an assistant coach, Steven Keshi and Daniel Amokachi worked as assistant coach with Coach Clement Westerhof and Amodu Shuaibu.

In those days, the assistants had identity and when they eventually took charge as substantive coaches, they controlled the rules of the game despite the array of stars in the Super Eagles.

How many stars do we have in the Eagles now that have become so many for George to manage in just one month. It speaks volumes of his leadership quality.

The two men are dead, Keshi and Shuaibu but then we still have the revered Chief Adegboye Onigbinde among the successful indigenous coaches.

What Westerhof achieved, Keshi also did with lesser quality of players because he was a natural leader that never played on the emotional intelligence of Nigerians.

Osimhen may have made a serious mistake by not waiting for George to refute the allegation against him, the statement, either it gives names or not is an excuse of a failure who is seeking associates.

George is clever by half and he is because Osimhen himself is impatient. George caught many Nigerians who see issues from emotional angle.

Osimhen’s reaction may look irrational, it is a transfered aggression that he may never play in a World Cup. He is in his prime like a few others, Victor Boniface, Ademola Lookman, Ola Aina, Stanley Nwabali, Calvin Bassey etc.

The joy of any player is to play in the World Cup but with the situation on ground with Nigeria in number five on the table of six teams, the hope is dim.

We have only heard about Osimhen today, the position the NFF and a rookie coach had put them will generate more outbursts.

In the friendly games against Ghana and Mali, Lookman nearly cried because George refused to use him as starter.

How on earth will a coach start one of his best players from the bench in the guise of trying to suppress his ego.

This is Nigeria, one of the 10 countries in the world with players playing abroad. Any coach that will lead Nigeria must learn how to manage ego of these players without which he will fail.

By Kunle Awosiyan

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