By Ikeddy Isiquzo
A CHANCE meeting with Coach Shuaibu Amodu last Friday was a good opportunity to know his inner thoughts as he is again denied a place in the country’s World Cup party. He suffered the same fate in 2002.
â€œI want to see what they would achieve with this coach,â€ he said at the Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport, Abuja. We were waiting to board a flight to Benin City.
â€œWhen it seemed the team would not qualify for the World Cup, nobody brought in a coach to work a miracle. After the qualification they want to waste money on a coach who would leave after the World Cup.
â€œIf we needed a coach should he not have come earlier so that he would at least know the team and work for the World Cup ticket? What is the sense in what is going on now?
â€œWhere is the justice in this? How can I be treated this way in my own country? People are talking about the team not playing well, yet we qualified for the World Cup. The terms of my contract were to qualify for the World Cup and take the team to the semi-final of the African Cup of Nations, I did more than that, and I won the bronze medal.
â€œThey are not talking about the players. They are only interested in hiring a coach. Would he manufacture new players before the World Cup?
â€œIt is on record that the same thing happened to me in 2002. After I qualified the team for the World Cup, I was dropped. Is it fair that someone who cooked a meal is denied the opportunity of tasting it?
â€œThe problem that I had was that people expected me to keep quiet about the football association not doing the things it was supposed to do. They are all interested in a foreign coach, I once asked why they are not bringing in foreigners to take their own positions. They did not like it.â€
Amodu is the first to admit the team was not the dream team of Nigerians but he pointed out facts that people also ignore about the decline of Nigerian football and his own achievements.
â€œIt has been eight years since any Nigerian player was listed for FIFA World Player of Year. Does that not say something about the quality of our players? When was the last time a Nigerian won the CAF Player of the Year? Do people not know that these have implications for our football?,â€ he asked.
He scored boldly there. Jay Jay Okocha’s third place (2003) and second position (2004) are the best Nigerian players have done in the award since Nwankwo Kanu won it for the second time in 1999, having beaten 1995 World Footballer of the Year, George Weah to it in 1996.
From 1993 Nigerians dominated the CAF Footballer of the Year awards. Rashidi Yekini (1993); Emmanuel Amunike (1994) and Yekini tied with Weah in second place; Kanu (1996) and Daniel Amokachi was third; Victor Ikpeba (1997) and Taribo West was third; Okocha was second and Sunday Oliseh third in 1998; and Kanu won in 1999.
Thereafter the eclipse followed.
Amodu does not claim to be the best coach in the worldÂ and he is notÂ but the point remains that the pretences about the challenges around Nigerian football have gone on for too long that it profits those who refuse to account (or take responsibilities) to throw millions of our money at a problem they created by doing nothing to improve the breeding grounds for new talent.
Lars Lagerback would enjoy his millions and leave us with our problems. Can we blame him?
Bazuaye, ThanksÂ Â Â Â Fashola
ON arrival in Benin City last Friday, to see ailing coach Willie Bazuaye, I learnt officials of the Lagos Sate Government had taken him to Lagos the same day. This was a first step in fulfilling Governor Babatunde Fashola’s promise to pay for the treatment of the coach. Bazuaye has been down with stroke since 2003 while on contract with the Nigeria Football Association, which neglected him on the grounds that he was on contract and not a staff of the NFA.
The trip to Benin City was necessitated by the fact that I wanted first hand information for the deluge of enquiries I was getting from concerned readers about the coach. I am glad that I can give a heartening update.
I join millions of Nigerians in thanking Governor Fashola for the gesture. I also use this opportunity to thank all those who indicated an interest in the matter when I raised it on this page only two weeks ago.
THE Nigeria Football Association should celebrate the first anniversary of the disappearance of $236,000 from its coffers last year as it is not interested in recovering the money.
NIGERIANS must be interested in the future of Fortune Chukwudi who captained the U-17 FIFA World Cup team last October. Chukwudi’s youth is an asset to Lars Lagerback’s World Cup team.
CONGRATULATIONS to Stephen Okechukwu Keshi on being announced an African Football Legend at the CAF-Glo awards in Accra. Was that another reminder that our football is mostly in the past?
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