Hassan Shehatta, the coach of Egypt was in the central defence for Egypt during the 1980 Nations Cup in Nigeria. He was in the team that Nigeria beat on their way to winning their first ever Nations Cup, the only other time being in Tunisia in 1994.
Hassan was a warrior of many battles for Egypt. He was a great player and could now be regarded as great manager. He was in charge when Egypt won the Nations Cup in Ghana.
You cannot say that of the Nigerian coach, Shuaibu Amodu. He did not play for the national team and was not a star player in any top Nigerian club. He was in Niger Tornadoes when they were in second division although he was a good full back.Â Still, you cannot hold that against him.
From Arsene Wenger to Jose Mourinho and to Ottmar Hitzfeld,Â the world of football has known great coaches who were never top players. But the difference is that while these coaches stamp their authority in their teams, national team close observers believe Amodu does that outside the team. The confidence Amodu displays before the media, in meeting and before FA officials somehow eludes him before the players who are all based in Europe, a seeming complex, one may conclude.
One top Nigeria Football Federation official told this reporter early this week that the day Amodu overcomes this problem, he will be a better handler of the national team â€œbecause he was not like this when he coached BCC and some other clubsâ€.Â He hopes that there will be a change when Eagles begin their battle in Angola with their first matchÂ against Egypt Tuesday.
â€œI expect a change in the few days we will train in Durban. If Amodu exudes confidence and becomes authoritative before the players, some seriousness will set in,â€ the top official said in a friendly discussion in which he said that he felt free to discuss with this reporter knowing that â€œyou are mature enough not to quote me.â€
Eagles have consistently exposed flaws in marking collectively. They allow opponents a lot of space and this has always counted against them. Again, they lack aggression and their reaction to counter attack is not fast enough. These three major problems were pointed out by this reporter and the top football official totally agreed and consequently opened up on the coach who leads Nigeria to the Nations Cup and hopefully to the World Cup in South Africa.
â€œI think that Amodu knows he has these problems in the team but Iâ€™m not sure he can be hard on the players to effect a change. The day he develops such guts that will make him insist on certain things in training and match situations then the world will see a different coach in Amodu because he is not as bad as people portray him in terms of knowledge of the game. But he simply lacks authority and that compounds issues. It doesnâ€™t help him in implementing ideas. Letâ€™s hope he changes. If he does, it will show in the game of the Eagles. Letâ€™s hope he changes and takes absolute control of authority in directing the team tactically and otherwise.â€
Amodu will need authority to face a side coached by Shehata, a team so bruised by their failure to qualify for the World Cup in spite of their belief in their good game and history. They have won the Nations Cup a record six times and boast of clubs so professionally run that Europe is not a major attraction to many of their players. Amodu may need to be more imposing to ginger his players to action. He begins with Egypt on Tuesday. Nigerians are wishing him luck. But he needs to command the game and deserve the luck that everybody prays for including his opponents.