Nigeria Olympic team coach Samson Siasia
Saturday Feb 27, 2016. 15:53
Nigerians woke up Friday morning to the news that Sunday Oliseh has resigned as Super Eagles chief coach.
But I must start by hailing him for doing what is alien in this part of this world - resigning ‘in the face of uncomfortable situations’. By so doing, he has earned my respect. I was not in support of most of his decisions while at the helm of the national team, but by voluntarily quitting, he has set standards.
But the way Oliseh was going, it was always going to be difficult for him to deliver the AFCON ticket. His opting out may be the tonic that will fire the team ahead of Egypt after the double header.
Samson Siasia has now been drafted in to take charge for the games against Egypt.
Here are decisions taken by Oliseh that must be reversed by Siasia –
Vincent Enyeama should be forced out of his ‘premature’ international retirement immediately. I have always insisted that we have not seen the last of Vincent in the national team. He is still the continent’s best goalkeeper.
The other day, he was in goal for Lille all 90 minutes and kept a clean sheet against PSG. You don’t have such a quality ‘keeper still active at club level and not use him.
Vincent was forced out of the national team following his misunderstanding with Oliseh. Surely, another coach would have handled that incident differently and Vincent would still be donning the national colours. Against Egypt, a top-class keeper like Vincent could be decisive. He has shut out the likes of Lionel Messi, so he wouldn’t be intimidated by the likes of Mohammed Salah.
(2) EMENIKE TOO…
Just like Vincent, Emmanuel Emenike was forced into early international retirement by Sunday Oliseh. The lad saw the ominous signs and tactfully avoided being given the Enyeama treatment.
The fact is that Oliseh was a very outspoken player but as a coach, he detested players who were capable of doing what he was renowned for during his playing days.
Last weekend, we saw a virtuoso performance by Emenike for West Ham. His experience will come in handy in difficult situations.
Can you imagine an Emenike-Odion Ighalo combo upfront on current form? He could be Ighalo’s Troy Deneey in the national team.
(3) STRIP MUSA OF THE CAPTAINCY AND RESTORE ORDER IN THE TEAM
One decision that was always going to undermine Oliseh was taking the captain’s arm band away from Enyeama and handing it to Ahmed Musa.
While not taking away anything from Musa’s talents, he was not the most suitable for that role even if Enyeama was no longer in the picture.
The next in line was Mikel Obi. It was even for this reason that Mikel turned down the offer of deputising for Musa. Hence the coach opted for Ogenyi Onazi as assistant captain. This decision must be reversed as it unsettled the team.
A national team where Musa is the captain and Onazi his assistant lack leadership. This is the senior national team and not some age-group team.
There is a possibility that even if Vincent agrees to return to the national team, he might turn down the captain’s band. In that case, Mikel should be accorded his due.
(4) RAISE THE EXPERIENCE QUOTIENT AND REVIVE THE ‘GANG’
At the full international level, only a ‘gang’ wins.
Under Oliseh, the team was not a ‘gang’. He ‘attacked’ the troop and chased away the ‘Generals’ in charge. The results were discordant tunes just as the soldiers in the battle field took cover.
This was obvious in the way the team played. No player was willing to take the risk. It would have been interesting to see how they would have overcome the Egyptian hurdle in that state.
There is also need to raise the team’s experience quotient. The Musa-Onazi captaincy is a reflection of how low the team’s experience quotient dropped.
Even better endowed national teams don’t discard the experienced players without recourse to team’s balance. On big match days, teams lacking in experience pay dearly. A commensurate blend of youth and experience will do the magic.
(5) LIVE AMONG US
Oliseh’s decision to run the affairs of the team from Europe didn’t help his cause. He only watched one NPFL match live, that is Shooting Stars vs Sunshine Stars. That was largely responsible for his CHAN failure.
On the contrary, during Stephen Keshi’s glorious days as Eagles chief coach, he built his team around home-based players whom he personally scouted. The team won bronze at CHAN.
Siasia excelled at the U23 Championship against all odds because he lived here and had the bulk of his team from here.
There is need to have a solid pool of players from the domestic scene. One way of doing this is for the national team coach to regularly be at the NPFL match venues. That way, he would have an assemblage of home-based players who would be a true reflection of the in-form players in the domestic league.
By Clement Nwankpa Jnr