Friday Feb 26, 2016. 13:52
Nigeria’s campaign for next year’s Africa Cup of Nations has suffered a massive setback after coach Sunday Oliseh quit on Thursday.
Oliseh, who is just eight months into a three-year contract, said he quit after he did not enjoy the support of the Nigeria Football Federation (NFF), who also breached his contract severally.
And this comes just a month to a crunch home game against Egypt in the northern town of Kaduna with the reverse leg two days later in Cairo.
He is owed at least four months’ pay and has been unable to tour Europe as proposed to visit some of the country’s top stars ahead of crucial Nations Cup qualifiers against seven-time champions Egypt.
“We have received Oliseh’s resignation and we will meet and decide on what next,” said a shaken NFF general secretary Mohammed Sanusi, who spoke from Zurich where delegates have gathered for today’s FIFA presidential polls.
Last year, Nigeria failed to defend the Nations Cup title they won in 2013 in South Africa after they were upstaged by South Africa and Congo Brazzaville in the qualifiers.
The three-time African champions are also in danger of missing out on a second straight tournament as they are two points behind Egypt after two rounds of matches with only the overall group winners guaranteed automatic qualification to next year’s competition in Gabon.
Former national team official Ben Alaiya said Oliseh’s resignation has further compromised the country’s qualification chances.
“It’s a shock. He should not have quit, it was like abandoning the ship in the middle of the sea. It was a big slap to 180 million Nigerians,” he said.
“But we must move ahead and look at the options because we have very important games against Egypt next month.”
Former Nigeria international Dosu Joseph said the NFF must move quickly to appoint a successor to stay on track for Gabon 2017.
“Many of us saw this coming, but we now need to move forward because we have beat Egypt at least at home or else kiss goodbye to the Nations Cup,” he warned.
“The NFF must now sit up for the matches against Egypt because it will be a disaster if we failed again to qualify for the Nations Cup.”
Former Nigeria coaches Shuabu Amodu and Samson Siasia are the early front runners as caretaker coaches before a substantive coach is named.
The experienced Amodu has severally handled the Eagles, qualifying Nigeria to the 2002 and 2014 World Cups, and he is currently the Nigeria Football Federation (NFF) technical director.
Siasia posted a short stint as Eagles between 2010 and 2011. He was sacked after he failed to qualify Nigeria to the 2012 Nations Cup jointly hosted by Gabon and Equatorial Guinea.
Emmanuel Amuneke, who has been promoted to the Under-20 national team after he led the Golden Eaglets to a fifth FIFA U17 World Cup in November, could also be considered for the country’s top coaching post.
However, it is expected that Salisu Yusuf, who has assisted Oliseh, will stay on to be a link between the coach and the team his former boss was trying to build before he threw in the towel.