By Jude Opara
The public presentation of newly appointed Super Eagles Chief Coach, Sunday Oliseh by the Nigeria Football Federation (NFF) on Wednesday marked yet another welcome step by the Amaju Melvin Pinnick led executive committee.
The board which came to office on September 30, 2014 has continued to gradually but consistently take one step after another to fulfill its mandate of truly developing Nigerian football. First, it was the sponsoring of some Nigerian Referees to a refresher course in London. Later, there was the trip to the same country for Match Readers made up of a select number of Nigerian coaches.
Listening to Oliseh present his position after the signing of the contract was enough to convince any doubting Thomas that the assertion of the NFF president, Amaju Pinnick that the former national captain could pass for the Pep Guardiola of Africa was not an over statement.
The hiring of Oliseh after the exit of former Coach, Stephen Keshi is a right step in the right direction because it has proven that with the huge abundance of talents in the country, any coach who is focused will succeed.
One thing that used to derail Nigerian coaches has always been the inability of the federation to fulfill its own side of the bargain as at when due, but with what we have seen of the present board, it is obvious that we may have said good bye to that dark era where coaches and players are owed salaries and allowances.
While speaking at the unveiling, Pinnick promised to ensure strict compliance to the letters of the contract which it entered with the coach. And as if to demonstrate that gesture, the NFF has already paid upfront the three months salary of Oliseh and his assistants. Certainly, there is no better way of motivating a worker than to ensure that he gets his salary as at when due.
The federation also did so well to let the Coach have the assistants he wanted included the Belgian Jean Francois Lusciuto. Initially, there were issues with his appointment but the NFF did well to apply to the Bureau of Public Procurement so as to have the necessary clearance to employ him as an expatriate.
As a well known strict individual, Oliseh seems to be the right man for the job because in the past dispensation, the players were over pampered and over rated hence they easily faltered even against otherwise weak oppositions that hitherto used to be an easy take for the Nigerian national team.
Already, the Coach has read the riot act to the players that the national team is no longer for journeymen who do not even command any starting shirt in the clubs. He also hit the nail on the head when he remarked that what we have today are just average players without any known star player that can, on his own, win a game for the team.
To this effect, he has warned that for anybody to be in the Nigerian national team, such a person must be in the top flight league of the country where he plies his trade or any player who must have played in any of the Nigerian age-grade national teams.
“The state we are now in Nigeria, I think, we are all not very happy with it. We say it as it is, but I must be very blunt because I am among my countrymen so let us call a spade a spade, gone are the days when we had individual players who can win matches for us out of their own individual efforts and that is what we had during my generation and the way out is this;
if you don’t have great players, you need a great technical coaching crew and a great national federation to compensate for what you don’t have as regards these great players. But we have potentials even to be the best in the world, that is what I honestly believe and that is what my coaching crew also believe. “
The former Juventus of Italy midfielder has also warned that henceforth players must see their invitation to the national team as a privilege and not to carry on as if they were doing the country a favour by playing for her.
Granted that many analysts have written Oliseh off because of the fact that he has not coached any known national team or even a club but we have also seen some coaches who never had any coaching experience, yet they were able to do well on their first attempt.
German legend, Franz Backenbauer and Pep Guardiola of Spain are two good examples of former players who despite not having much coaching experience still did so well with the teams they handled on the first instance.
One sure thing that goes for Oliseh is the fact that as a member of the prestigious FIFA Technical Study Group, he must have acquired a lot of experience that may not take him time to replicate on the players.
However, one thing that Oliseh must avoid like a plague is the urge to delve into marketing players. Experience has shown that it is one sure way for a coach to destroy himself because the moment he fails to sell any quality player, there is always that tendency to begin to ignore and antagonize such a player, and the result will be a negative effect on the entire team. Again, coaches tend to give undue privilege to players on their stable for marketing.